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Birmingham Legion FC 2021 Season Preview

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 04/20/21, 5:00PM EDT


Birmingham Legion FC reached the postseason for a second consecutive season in 2020 and has added more firepower at the top of the lineup for its new campaign.| Photo courtesy Birmingham Legion FC

2021 Outlook

Birmingham Legion FC was cruising to first place in Group G and the first home playoff game in the club’s short history in 2020, but a late-season dip in form that saw it win only once in its final six regular season games sent the side on the road and a second consecutive exit in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

To have earned back-to-back postseason appearances in the club’s first two years in the professional ranks is no mean feat, though, and Legion FC appears set for more success this year after retaining much of its key talent and adding some notable names for the new season. At the top of the incoming list is 2020 Championship Golden Boot-winner Junior Flemmings, and he’s joined by J.J. Williams – now signed to a permanent deal after spending time on loan with Legion FC on loan previously.  

That duo joins Neco Brett, who has notched 41 goals over the past three seasons across the regular season and playoffs, while Legion FC also has 2020 Championship All-League selection Bruno Lapa back in the fold after his outstanding rookie season. Add in the defensive pedigree brought by Phanuel Kavita and Ryan James, and there should be reason for optimism at BBVA Field once again.

Notable Arrivals

Phanuel Kavita, Defender: Consistent performer has played every minute of the past two seasons

Ryan James, Defender: Wingback had a career season in Pittsburgh in 2020

Junior Flemmings, Forward: Passed 50 regular-season goals on his way to the Golden Boot last year

J.J. Williams, Forward: After prior loan stints, Williams arrives on a permanent deal in 2021

Notable Departures

Bolu Akinyode: Transferred to Miami FC

Brian Wright: Option Declined

Razak Cromwell: Option Declined

Josh Bauer: Selected by Atlanta United FC in MLS SuperDraft

Two to Watch

Midfielder Bruno Lapa earned Championship All-League honors after recording eight goals and five assists in his first professional season for Birmingham Legion FC. | Photo courtesy Birmingham Legion FC

Bruno Lapa

Bruno Lapa, Midfielder

Bruno Lapa’s rookie season started with a bang, and barely slowed down the rest of the way. His eight goals and five assists earned the Brazilian Championship All-League honors as he proved one of the best newcomer stories in the league throughout 2020. With a new multi-year contract extension in hand, there will be plenty of eyes on the Wake Forest University product – who also featured in USL League Two for the North Carolina Fusion – as he enters his second campaign.

Neco Brett

Neco Brett, Forward

The abbreviated season meant Neco Brett couldn’t return his third consecutive season of double-digit goals as he arrived at Legion FC, but a team-high nine goals at a strike rate of 125.8 minutes per goal were exactly the return Birmingham was hoping for when they brought the Jamaican aboard last offseason. Now Brett will have more attacking weapons around him, which could see his creativity around the penalty area get a bigger chance to shine. In addition to his 41 goals, the 29-year-old has also notched 16 assists in the past three seasons, making him a valuable contributor.


Birmingham Legion FC Head Coach Tom Soehn is taking aim at earning his side's first home postseason game in 2021 after advancing to the USL Championship Playoffs in each of its first two seasons. | Photo courtesy Birmingham Legion FC

Tommy Soehn

Tom Soehn (3rd Season)

In Birmingham Legion FC’s first two seasons, Head Coach Tom Soehn has built a well-organized side capable of exciting attacking passages of play to sustain a solid level of success. In Year 3, the aim will be higher with the arrival of forwards Junior Flemmings and J.J. Williams to complement the existing attacking pieces in place. Legion FC won’t be a surprise to anyone anymore, but that won’t keep it from being a contender for a spot in the playoffs at the end of the season.

Key Number

9.29Birmingham Legion FC’s finishing was among the sharpest in the Championship, with its total of goals scored (29) outstripping its Expected Goals mark (19.71) according to American Soccer Analysis by the second-highest margin in the league. Continuing to consistently find the net is going to be a major key to taking the next step in the club’s progression on the field.

Possible Lineup

Projected Finish: Third, Central Division

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