CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Charlotte Independence claimed their first victory at American Legion Memorial Stadium as second-half goals by Dane Kelly and Irvin Parra sent the side to a 2-0 victory against the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday night to end a five-game winless run.
Neither side created much early – the first official shot didn’t arrive until the 16th minute when Tampa Bay’s Laurence Wyke shot wide of the left post after a corner – and the first big opportunity didn’t come until almost the half-hour mark as the Independence got Enzo Martinez into the right side of the penalty area. The veteran held off his marker and delivered a good pass to a late-arriving Sylvain Marveaux, but the midfielder skied his finish well over the crossbar.
Tampa Bay almost grabbed the lead late in the first half as Conner Antley controlled after Yann Ekra kept an attacking chance alive with a header that sent the ball to the wingback 25 yards from goal, but Antley’s shot was tipped over the crossbar by Charlotte’s Brandon Miller. The Independence’s Dane Kelly then fired just over the top-left corner of the net in first-half stoppage time, but the teams went to the halftime break with the game still deadlocked.
Kelly struck two minutes into the second half, however, as Martinez stole possession in midfield and quickly released the Jamaican forward between two defenders, allowing him to drive toward goal before finishing into the right corner of the net. Charlotte almost added a second in the 56th minute as after an attack appeared to break down in the Rowdies’ penalty area the ball bounced loose into the left side of the box where Adam Armour pushed up to fire a first-time shot just wide of the right post.
Armour played a role as Charlotte struck in the 62nd minute, however, as he lifted a pass into the right side of the penalty area for Marveaux, who sent a looping cross to the back post where Kevin Riascos headed down for Irvin Parra, and the California native turned home a finish into the right corner of the net.
The Rowdies almost pulled a goal back midway through the second half as Max Lachowecki’s touch pass into the penalty area set up a chance for Leo Fernandes, but his shot slid wide of the right post. The visitors also threatened late on as Lewis Hilton fired a shot just wide of the left post, while a looping header by Lachowecki was handled comfortably by Miller in second-half stoppage time, but that sealed the veteran goalkeeper’s shutout and earned the Independence their second win against Tampa Bay this season.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Enzo Martinez, Charlotte Independence – The veteran playmaker produced a picture-perfect assist to set up Dane Kelly’s opening goal and had four key passes overall while winning two tackles and winning seven duels.
CLT – Dane Kelly (Enzo Martinez) 47’
CLT – Irvin Parra (Kevin Riascos) 62’