BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Charlotte Independence maintained their recent run of outstanding form with a 3-1 victory against Birmingham Legion FC at BBVA Field that reduced the gap between the two sides to just a point in the race for first place in Group G. Dane Kelly scored twice for the visitors to lead the way, giving him 10 goals for the regular season.
The side exchanged chances early on as both Birmingham’s Prosper Kasim and Charlotte’s Kelly had chances, but the first big chance came to hosts on the quarter-hour mark as Bruno Lapa sent a low cross from the right by Jonathan Dean just wide of the right post from near the penalty spot.
Two minutes later, however, the Independence grabbed the lead as Kelly controlled a cross by Jake Areman from the left side and quickly turned and fired high into the net for his first of the night.
Birmingham answered through their own Jamaican international 11 minutes before halftime as a clever passing sequence saw Anderson Asiedu’s pass to the top of the penalty area cleverly back-heeled on by Lapa into the path of Dean, whose cross found Neco Brett near the top of the six-yard area for a volleyed finish into the right corner of the net.
As the game looked it would go to halftime even, however, Kelly struck once again. The visitors held up play on the left side and cycled the ball back to Areman, and his angled cross into the center of the penalty area was powerfully headed home into the left corner of the net to put Charlotte back on top.
Brett found the net again moments later only for the offside flag to be raised to keep the Independence ahead at halftime, but then on the hour-mark the hosts were reduced to 10 men as Asiedu was sent off for his second yellow card of the contest. Despite being down a man, Legion FC created a chance that Kasim flashed wide of the far post from the left side of the penalty area just out of the reach of a pair of teammates breaking into the six-yard area.
The Independence then began to take more control as their man advantage told, and Legion FC goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel had to be sharp to keep out chances for Areman and Junior Etou. Charlotte almost added an insurance goal with six minutes to go as Guido Vadala had another low shot parried away by Van Oekel, but a minute later the Independence put the game away as Vadala found Derek Gebhard with a nice pass into the penalty area, and Gebhard tucked away a low finish to the right corner to seal all three points.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Dane Kelly, Charlotte Independence – Kelly continued his recent stellar form in front of net scoring twice on seven shots overall while completing 12 of 15 passes while leading the line.