MIAMI – Neco Brett’s seventh goal of the season lifted Birmingham Legion FC to a 1-0 victory against Miami FC on Wednesday night at FIU Stadium as the visitors moved back into first place in the Central Division while extending Miami’s undefeated run to four games.
Meeting for the second time in their histories, both teams had chances inside the opening six minutes. The first came to the hosts as Haiti international Christiano Francois created space for a turning shot from the top of the penalty area that was saved by Legion FC’s Matt VanOekel, while a minute later Junior Flemmings cut in from the left and fired a low shot to the near corner that Miami’s Connor Sparrow got down to save.
Flemmings shot began a good spell for the visitors overall that culminated with a big chance for Bruno Lapa. Miami was unable to clear a cross from left cleanly, and Birmingham’s Jonathan Dean laid a pass back to Lapa just inside the penalty area only for the Brazilian’s curled shot to go just wide of the top-left corner.
Miami came on as the half progressed and had half-chances for Francois that went high and Lamar Walker, who squeezed a shot through two defenders that was saved by VanOekel three minutes before the halftime break. Birmingham’s JJ Williams also threatened in the final minute before the break, making a clever move in the right side of the penalty area to create space for a shot that Sparrow turned behind for a corner, but the clearest chance in the late going came to Francois, who ran onto a flick on by Junior Palacios for a shot from the right channel that was saved by VanOekel.
Flemmings – who last week was named to Jamaica’s preliminary roster for the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup – created the first good chance of the second half for the visitors as he stole possession in the Miami half and moved into the left side of the penalty, only to send his finish wide of the far post. Miami’s Pierre da Silva then almost picked out a near-post shot from the right side of the penalty area that just missed and found the side-netting as he cut back centrally onto his left foot.
The visitors threatened again just past the hour-mark as a clever turn and centering pass by Williams in the left side of the penalty area wasn’t cleared by Miami, allowing Lapa to lay a pass back for Anderson Asiedu to fire a shot that deflected just wide of the right post. Bolu Akinyode then had a chance two minutes later for the hosts, but VanOekel was up to the effort from 15 yards.
Miami quickly created another chance that came to Richie Ballard, who got into the right side of the penalty area after good interplay with Adonijah Reid but then skied his shot over the crossbar. But Ballard then made a crucial intervention at the other end of the field, sliding in to dispossess Lapa as he shaped to shoot from 12 yards after the Brazilian moved into the penalty area after a pass from Flemmings.
With eight minutes to go, however, Brett put Legion FC ahead, with help from Jaden Servania. Brought on as a second-half substitute, the Puerto Rico international juked past a pair of defenders on the left flank to get to the byline and delivered a low cross that Williams left at the near post allowing Brett to fire first-time into the right corner of the net from 10 yards out.
Miami tried to answer in the closing minutes as Ariel Martinez fired a shot that deflected but flew just wide of the left post with three minutes to go, but Legion FC saw out the remaining minutes to claim their second win in two trips to Miami in the past two seasons.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Junior Flemmings, Birmingham Legion FC – Flemmings looked sharp in possession, putting two of his three shots on goal and also completed 27 of 30 passes while recording one key pass and winning 7 of 12 duels.
BHM – Neco Brett (Jaden Servania) 82’