BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Neco Brett struck in either half as Birmingham Legion FC picked up its third victory of the season with a convincing 4-1 victory against the Charlotte Independence on Wednesday night at BBVA Field.
Separated by three points in Group G entering the contest, both teams had chances inside the opening five minutes to strike first. The Independence’s Dane Kelly carved out the first chance but pulled his shot from the left side of he penalty area wide of the far post, and less than a minute later Brian Wright sent a finish from the top-left corner of the six-yard area into the side-netting wide of the left post.
Legion FC wouldn’t take long to find the opener, however, as Wright’s cross from the right deflected kindly to Bruno Lapa inside the penalty area. Lapa’s initial shot was saved, but Jonathan Dean was on hand to finish off the rebound for his first goal for the Three Sparks in the fifth minute.
Six minutes later it was Brett’s turn to bag his first regular-season goal for his new club. The Jamaican outdueled a pair of Charlotte defenders, then showed patience to pick his corner with a low shot to the left side to double Birmingham’s lead. Things could have gotten even better for the hosts midway through the half as well, only Jacob Rufe’s header off a corner kick by Lapa rang off the left post and deflected away to safety.
The Independence had chances of their own but twice in the first half Enzo Martinez was just off with his finishes as they missed the target. Things then got worse for the visitors seven minutes into the second half as Dean and Lapa combined again. Breaking upfield down the right, Dean beat his marker to cut into the penalty area and then found Lapa just inside the top of the penalty area for a low shot to the right corner that marked his fourth goal of the season.
Brett then doubled his tally for the night in the 66th minute as Wright juked past a defender before holding the ball inside the penalty area and laying off a pass to the Jamaican 20 yards from goal. Brett’s show was low and true to the left corner of the net, leaving Independence goalkeeper Brandon Miller helpless.
The Independence pulled a consolation goal back from the penalty spot with 15 minutes to go as a cross from the night deflected off the arm of Dean in Birmingham’s penalty area. Martinez stepped up and shot low to the right corner to notch his first goal of the season, but Legion FC would see out the remaining minutes to extend their lead at the top of Group G.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Neco Brett, Birmingham Legion FC – Brett scored his first two league goals in Legion FC’s colors and also recorded two key passes and four shots while completing 20 of 25 passes overall.