North Carolina FC took 11 victories on home turf this regular season ahead of Wednesday's postseason clash with Birmingham Legion FC. | Photo courtesy Rob Kinnan / North Carolina FC
CARY, N.C. – Two clubs making their first appearance in the USL Championship Playoffs will square off on Wednesday night as No. 7 seed North Carolina FC hosts No. 10 seed Birmingham Legion FC in the Eastern Conference Play-In Round at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.
@NorthCarolinaFC makes its Championship Playoffs debut in its second season in the league, having earned its place in the postseason thanks to a stellar home record under Head Coach Dave Sarachan. NCFC went 11-1-5 on home turf during the regular season, placing it tied for third in the league in home victories as it posted a +25 goal differential in front of its own fans. Coming off a 1-0 victory against Saint Louis FC this past Saturday night thanks to a late goal by Robbie Kristo, North Carolina had six different players register at least five goals in the regular season.
NCFC’s victory against Saint Louis provided the result @BHMLegion needed to clinch its postseason berth in the club’s inaugural Championship season, and allowed the side to rest numerous starters in its regular season finale on Sunday evening, a 1-0 defeat to Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. Legion FC made a second-half surge that saw it produce a 7-0-2 run between July 13 and September 4 to put it into postseason contention. That run of form began with a 1-0 victory against North Carolina, a result the visitors will be hoping to replicate in their playoff debut.
3 – North Carolina FC missed three out of its four penalty kicks during the regular season.
6 – Legion FC goalkeepers Trevor Spangenberg and Matt van Oekel combined for six saves across two shutouts against North Carolina in the two regular season meetings between the teams.
FiveThirtyEight.com Match Predictor: North Carolina FC 80%, Birmingham Legion FC 20%
North Carolina FC – GK: Alex Tambakis; D: D.J. Taylor, Alex Comsia, Sam Brotherton, Aaron Guillen; DM: Graham Smith; M: Manny Perez, Dre Fortune, Nazmi Albadawi, Steven Miller; F: Marios Lomis
Birmingham Legion FC – GK: Matt van Oekel; D: Akeem Ward, Kyle Fisher, Razak Cromwell, Kyle Culbertson; M: Mikey Lopez, Anderson Asiedu, Daniel Johnson; AM: Prosper Kasim; F: Brian Wright, J.J. Williams
North Carolina FC – None
Birmingham Legion FC – None
REF: Tim Ford
AR1: Nick Balcer
AR2: Jeremy Smith
4TH: Kevin Broadley