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Three Things That Mattered – Birmingham Denies Memphis

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 05/05/19, 9:00AM EDT

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Spectacular goals and a controversial late penalty left honors even at AutoZone Park

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Memphis 901 FC produced a pair of remarkable goals but was denied its first home win of its inaugural season as a late penalty kick for Birmingham Legion FC led to a 2-2 draw in rainy conditions at AutoZone Park. Here are three takeaways from the contest.

NAJEM’S VIRAL MOMENT: Memphis midfielder Cam Lindley put it best: “Credit to Elliot [Collier] for sticking with the play, but that play by [Adam] Najem is unbelievable. That should be all over social media, that should be everywhere.”

Najem’s lung-busting run to keep the ball in play with a slide was one thing, but the presence of mind to flick the ball past the covering defender and create the simplest of finishes for Duane Muckette was one of the best assists we’ve seen so far this season. “I’m a bit tired but the game is on the line at that point,” said Najem. “Everybody was working hard defensively so I did what I could to get there. I just made a play. I did what I had to do. Duane made a great run and thankfully I played it through to him.”

RANGE-FINDERS: Lindley had already produced his own highlight-reel moment in the first half to open the scoring with a blast from 25 yards that proved too hot to handle for Legion FC goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg, but it was matched by a brilliant strike from Birmingham’s Daniel Johnson that had leveled the score moments before Najem’s piece of brilliance.

Both goals are indicative of the quality that’s on these two expansion sides, who are both still growing into their inaugural seasons. Both sides have had challenges finding the net consistently so far this season, but hopefully this might spark some more consistent production in front of net moving forward.

OUT OF LUCK: Muckette’s goal seemed set to give 901 FC’s fans the chance to celebrate their first home win in club history, but a stoppage-time penalty kick that was awarded for a foul that certainly appeared to happen outside the penalty area added to the misfortune that has befallen Memphis so far this campaign. Chandler Hoffman put the penalty kick away clinically to level the score, which only added to the sense that luck simply has not been on Memphis’ side this season. After last weekend’s gut-punch loss to the Charleston Battery, 901 FC much be wondering what it’s going to take to claim those first three home points.

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