BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A second-half goal by Neco Brett lifted Birmingham Legion FC to a 1-0 victory against Memphis 901 FC on Saturday afternoon at Legion Field as the hosts earned their first win of the 2021 USL Championship season before a club-record crowd of 10,177 fans at the historic venue.
The hosts opened brightly, but Memphis created the first real threat on goal in the eighth minute as Belize international Michael Salazar cut in from the left edge of the penalty area and fired a curling shot to the far post that Legion FC goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel palmed wide.
With Jamaican international Junior Flemmings making his debut for Legion FC, the side looked to try and find him in space regularly, and that almost paid off in the 13th minute as he broke forward in a two-on-two with Neco Brett, only for the move to break down before either got a shot off. Anderson Asiedu produced a good save from Memphis goalkeeper John Berner midway through the half, though, but the best chance for the hosts before the break came with 10 minutes to go as Asiedu slid Flemmings into space down the left side. Flemmings cut back across that reached Bruno Lapa, but Berner got off his line well to save.
Memphis forced another save from Van Oekel in first-half stoppage time with a crisp half-volley from the top-right corner of the penalty area by Dominic Oduro, while Lapa again went close for Birmingham early in the second half only to be denied by Berner.
Legion FC took the lead on the hour-mark, however, as Brett ran onto a long ball over the top by Van Oekel before squeezing a finish past Berner and into the net. Van Oekel earned the assist, making him the 10th goalkeeper in the Championship to record an assist since the start of the 2017 regular season. Birmingham then kept up the pressure after its opener, and Lapa almost added to the lead for the hosts six minutes later but was denied as Berner make a kick-save to keep it a one-goal game.
Memphis tried to find a way back into the game, and with 17 minutes to go a driving run into the penalty area by Oduro saw the ball end up at the feet of Salazar, only for the offside flag to go up as he retreated from behind the defensive line. While Kyle Murphy fired a late effort on goal for 901 FC before Birmingham threatened to ice the game with a pair of additional chances, Legion FC’s saw out the result to earn the club’s first shutout of the season.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Matt Van Oekel, Birmingham Legion FC – Van Oekel recorded a five-save shutout and provided the assist on Neco Brett’s game-winning goal in a stellar all-around performance.
BHM – Neco Brett (Matt Van Oekel) 60’