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Gameday Report: August 28, Week 26

By USLChampionship.com Staff, 08/28/19, 9:45PM EDT

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Legion FC extends unbeaten run to eight games; Najem’s brace leads 901 FC to comeback victory

Birmingham Legion FC extended its unbeaten run to eight games and ensured Loudoun United’s wait for a first win at Segra Field continued as the two expansion sides battled to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday night. Elsewhere, fellow expansion side Memphis 901 FC picked up its first victory since July 27 as Adam Najem’s late brace gave the side a 2-1 victory over ATL UTD 2 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.

In the Western Conference, Las Vegas Lights FC's playoff hopes took a bit of a hit as Head Coach Eric Wynalda's side settled for a 1-1 draw with Tulsa Roughnecks FC after taking a second-half lead at ONEOK Field.

Tulsa Roughnecks FC (1) v Las Vegas Lights FC (1)

TULSA, Okla. – The Roughnecks came back from a goal down to earn a home point against Lights FC at ONEOK Field. The two sides played out an uneventful first half that saw Las Vegas forward Ferrety Sousa record the only shot on target in the 19th minute, but Tulsa goalkeeper Sean Lewis had no trouble corralling the long-range curling effort. The visitors finally broke the deadlock from a corner kick two minutes after the hour-mark when Javan Torre lost his defender inside the six-yard box and powered a close-range header past Lewis to give Las Vegas the lead. That lead would only last eight minutes however as Tulsa struck back from a long throw-in routine. Matt Sheldon tossed the ball into the penalty area from the left and defender Luca Lobo shielded it, getting the slightest of touches on the ball to help it on to Tobenna Uzo, who fired past Lights FC goalkeeper Thomas Olsen to tie things up with 20 minutes remaining. Preston Tabort Etaka had one last-gasp effort denied by Lewis in stoppage time as Las Vegas searched for a winner, but the two sides were forced to settle for a point.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Javan Torre, Las Vegas Lights FC – Torre scored the opening goal, won 8 of 16 duels and made eight recoveries, while also completing 3 of 4 dribbles in a strong all-around performance.

Loudoun United FC (1) v Birmingham Legion FC (1)

LEESBURG, Va. – Legion FC extended its unbeaten run to eight games with a draw against Loudoun at Segra Field. The hosts nearly took the lead from a free kick in the 18th minute as Kyle Murphy rose highest to meet Carlos Alvarez’s delivery from just outside the box, but the forward’s header bounced back into play off the post and center back Collin Verfurth couldn’t keep his rebound attempt on frame. Birmingham opened the scoring 14 minutes later with a brilliant counterattack, as Brian Wright turned his defender just inside his own half and carried the ball into the Loudoun box before squaring across goal for J.J. Williams to fire home past a helpless Calle Brown. United found its equalizer two minutes into the second half as Birmingham turned the ball over in its own defensive third and Murphy made the most of it, taking Christian Sorto’s pass at the top of the box and beating his defender before slotting the ball past Legion FC goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel. Williams had the ball in the back of the net for a second time on the hour-mark, but the Birmingham forward was ruled to be in an offside position when he headed Eric Avila’s cross into the bottom corner. Murphy nearly grabbed his second goal of the night moments later, running onto Connor Presley’s through ball and rounding Van Oekel but the angle became too tight for the forward to hit the target. Both sides pushed for a winner late on but a header wide from Loudoun’s Elvis Amoh with eight minutes remaining was as close as either side would come to breaking the deadlock.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Kyle Murphy, Loudoun United FC – Murphy scored the equalizing goal, attempted four shots and won 5 of 6 duels to help Loudoun come back to earn a point against Legion FC.

Atlanta United 2 (1) v Memphis 901 FC (2)

KENNESAW, Ga. – A pair of goals from Adam Najem helped 901 FC overturn a first-half deficit to defeat ATL UTD 2 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. After a quiet opening half-an-hour, the hosts created a golden chance to take the lead as Luiz Fernando was held in the box by Memphis midfielder Dan Metzger and referee Adam Kilpatrick pointed to the spot. ATL UTD 2 captain Jack Metcalf stepped up to take the resulting penalty kick and got enough height on his effort to beat 901 FC goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell, who guessed the right direction. Memphis nearly found an equalizer on the stroke of halftime as Najem slid Lagos Kunga behind the Atlanta defense, but the winger couldn’t get his near post shot past ATL UTD 2 goalkeeper Dylan Castanheira. The visitors finally broke through in the 79th minute as Najem coolly collected Josh Morton’s low cross in the center of the penalty area and tucked a tidy finish into the bottom-left corner to set up a dramatic finish. 901 FC pushed on for the winner and got its reward just four minutes later as Metzger forced a save out of Castanheira on a long-range effort and Najem cleaned up the rebound from in close to give Memphis a much-needed three points.  

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Adam Najem, Memphis 901 FC – Najem scored both of 901 FC’s goals in a five-minute span, completed 92 percent of his passes and won 4 of 5 duels to lead Memphis to a much-needed victory.

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