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GAMEDAY ROUNDUP: Charlotte, Birmingham Miss Chances to Clinch Playoff Places

By CAMERON KOUBEK -, 09/26/20, 7:15PM EDT


Legion FC, Independence fall at home to NCFC, 901 FC; Red Bulls II outgun Union II in 5-4 thriller

charlotte independence (1), memphis 901 fc (3)

MATTHEWS, N.C. - A fantastic goal from Jose Baxter and a brace from Cal Jennings sealed a 3-1 away victory for Memphis 901 FC, as the Tennessee side overcame an early Dane Kelly goal to win at the Sportsplex at Matthews on Saturday night.

Kelly opened the scoring for Charlotte with his 11th goal of the season in the 24th minute. Jake Areman delivered a great cross from the left flank, and the Jamaican forward nodded it in to put the Independence ahead.

But two quick Memphis goals just before halftime flipped the game on its head. Baxter drew 901 FC level in spectacular fashion, cutting the ball onto his right foot at the top of the penalty area and curling a beautiful strike which kissed the underside of the crossbar on its way in. Just moments later, Jennings fired the visitors in front.

After a tight second half, Jennings scored his second goal to seal the three points for Memphis. His individual effort in the 86th minute from outside the box wrapped up the victory for 901 FC, and given North Carolina FC’s win against Birmingham Legion FC, ensured that Charlotte will have to wait to clinch a playoff berth in Group G. Man of the Match

Rece Buckmaster, Memphis 901 FC – Buckmaster was the driving force behind Memphis' strong team performance. He tallied an assist, completed 80 percent of his passes (including two key passes) and won 3 of 4 duels to help his team to the win.

Birmingham Legion FC (1), North carolina FC (2)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - North Carolina FC kept its slim playoff hopes alive with a 2-1 away win over Birmingham Legion FC on Saturday night at BBVA Field. The result ensured that neither Legion FC nor Charlotte Independence could clinch a playoff spot in Group G this weekend.

The visitors took the lead only seven minutes into the contest through Manny Perez, whose fine finish to the bottom left corner of the net gave NCFC the early advantage.

Things then went from bad to worse for Legion FC. NCFC’s cushion increased from one to two goals in the 26th minute, when Dre Fortune calmly dispatched a penalty kick.

19-year-old Jaden Servania dragged Legion FC back into the game midway through the second half, four minutes after entering the game as a substitute. Servania, Legion FC’s first-ever USL Academy signing, redirected a low cross into the net to bring Birmingham back within one with just over 20 minutes to play in normal time.

Legion FC increased the pressure on the NCFC goal late on, piling bodies forward in search of an equalizer which would have clinched playoff spots both for themselves and Charlotte. But NCFC held on for the win, meaning it can still earn a playoff spot in Group G should it win its final three matches and either Birmingham or Charlotte loses all of its remaining matches. Man of the Match

Dre Fortune, North Carolina FC – Fortune converted a penalty kick in the first half, which turned out to be the game-winning goal. He also completed 88 percent of his passes, including 15 in the opposition half, showing the importance of Fortune's aggressiveness in breaking opposition lines.


MONTCLAIR, N.J. - A back-and-forth nine-goal thriller went the way of 10-man New York Red Bulls II on Saturday night at MSU Soccer Park, as the Red Bulls never trailed but scored three times while down a man to edge an incredible 5-4 victory over Philadelphia Union II.

The Red Bulls II attack was hungry in the early stages, and it took just 13 minutes for the home side to get on the board. On a swift counter, Cherif Dieye scampered into space behind the recovering Union II backline, and his smart pullback found Omar Sowe who powered it home.

Sowe doubled his scoring tally and Red Bulls II’s advantage six minutes later, heading in a corner at the near post. The first-half brace gave Sowe five goals in two matches against Union II.

Philadelphia got a lifeline before halftime, when Chris Lema brought down Axel Picazo on the edge of the penalty area. Lema was the last defender, and the referee gave him his marching orders. Union II quickly put its man-advantage to use, earning a penalty which Jack McGlynn converted to halve the deficit.

Nine minutes after the break, Union II got its equalizer. Caden Stafford whipped in an excellent low cross from the right flank, and Picazo poked in a clever finish.

Substitute Jake LaCava then restored the lead for 10-man Red Bulls II in the 65th minute. His first two attempts were well saved by Matt Freese in the Philadelphia goal, but the third time was the charm for LaCava. Things got even better for New York, as Bo Cummins added another two minutes later to put Red Bulls II up 4-2.

The two-goal lead again failed to last, as McGlynn immediately responded with a rocket from 20 yards out. Freese kept Union II in the game with multiple fantastic saves on LaCava and Deri Corfe, but could do nothing about Joe Fala’s goal in the 86th minute, New York’s fifth of the game and third while playing with 10 men. 

The scoring still wasn’t done, as Union II’s Luis Flores converted a spot kick in the final minute of regulation, but Red Bulls II held on for a wild win. Man of the Match

Omar Sowe, New York Red Bulls II – Sowe bagged a brace in the first half, and created five chances in 83 minutes played.

las vegas lights fc (2), LA Galaxy II (2)

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - A stoppage time equalizer from Rashawn Dally earned Las Vegas Lights FC a point against LA Galaxy II Saturday night at Cashman Field.

Both teams started a bit slowly, and as the game went on it was Lights FC who showed signs of growing into it. The first great chance of the match fell to Las Vegas’ Quincy Amarikwa, whose header was blocked off the line by Galaxy II defender Jalen Neal.

After more Las Vegas pressure, Junior Sandoval gave Lights FC a reward for its adventurous play in the 39th minute. Sandoval expertly brought down a long ball with a delicate first touch, then smashed it into the net to put his side ahead.

Los Angeles’ best chance of the first half fell to Jonathan Perez when a ball trickled through the entire Las Vegas defense. Unmarked from close range, Perez saw his shot tipped over the bar by Lights FC goalkeeper Thomas Olsen.

The Galaxy II eventually found its equalizer in the 71st through a bit of route one soccer, when Augustine Williams latched onto a long ball, out-maneuvered a defender and finished superbly off the far post. The goal was Williams’ fourth in three games this season against Las Vegas.

Perez got his goal 10 minutes later to put Los Angeles in front. He was in the right place at the right time as the Las Vegas defense failed to clear their lines, and the young midfielder powered in the loose ball.

Dally then dealt a blow to the Galaxy II's playoff hopes with a well-worked late goal, receiving a clever through ball and finishing around the onrushing goalkeeper to level the match at two goals apiece. Man of the Match

Junior Sandoval, Las Vegas Lights FC – Sandoval scored Lights FC's opener and was the engine of the club's midfield, winning 10 duels and completing two key passes.

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (1), Real Monarchs SLC (1)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Bode Davis’ strike was offset by a Christian Volesky penalty kick, as Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC and Real Monarchs SLC played to a 1-1 draw on Saturday night at Weidner Field.

Switchbacks FC had most of the possession early, allowing the home side to set the tempo. But Real Monarchs broke the deadlock thanks to Davis, who scored following a corner kick after 21 minutes.

Colorado Springs would draw level from the penalty spot before the break. Volesky shouldered the responsibility, and coolly slotted home his finish to equalize for the home side.

Both teams buckled down defensively in the second half. As a result, quality scoring opportunities became hard to come by. The Monarchs produced a late offensive flurry, but couldn’t quite put the pieces together to create a winner and the match ended all square. Man of the Match

Sam Brown, Real Monarchs SLC – Brown's vision and creative ability were essential to the Monarchs midfield in earning a result on the road. He recorded an assist, created three chances and completed 80 percent of his passes, including 28 in the opposition half.

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