BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Birmingham Legion FC overcame an early deficit to take a 3-1 victory against Atlanta United 2 at BBVA Field on Wednesday night as second-half goals by Mikey Lopez and Junior Flemmings sent the hosts within four points of Louisville City FC at the top of the USL Championship’s Central Division.
Aiming to carry momentum from their late equalizer on Saturday night, Atlanta threatened early as Darwin Matheus fired a shot from the right channel just wide of the left post. The visitors then found the breakthrough to hit the front in the ninth minute as Connor Stanley attempted a shot from distance that was sharply controlled by Phillip Goodrum inside the penalty area, whereupon he spun and shot low into the left side of the net.
It took only two minutes for Legion FC to respond as Jonathan Dean won a 50-50 ball in the right corner of the attacking third and quickly delivered a low cross that JJ Williams redirected home into the left corner of the net at the near post. Williams had another chance two minutes later as Zach Herivaux found him after driving upfield, but the final shot from the edge of the penalty area went wide of the left post.
Atlanta almost regained the lead midway through the first half as Stanley lifted a clever pass into the penalty area that Matheus fired over the crossbar, while Legion FC defender Phanuel Kavita made an important block after Tyler Wolff got in behind the defense a few minutes later. Birmingham pressed to find the lead either side of the halftime break, however, and earned its reward four minutes into the second half as Prosper Kasim’s shot from just outside the top-right edge of the penalty area that was too hot to handle for Atlanta’s Rocco Rios Novo, and Mikey Lopez was on hand to put away the rebound.
Legion FC added a third just two minutes later when Kasim threaded a pass through the right channel for Dean, who delivered a first-time cross into the penalty spot for Williams. The forward wasn’t able to control with his first touch but kept the attack alive and laid a pass back for Junior Flemmings, who hit a first-time shot that deflected off a defender and found the back of the net. The Jamaican international then almost added his second of the night a few minutes later as he broke onto a long pass upfield by Alex Crognale but hit the crossbar with his finish.
Williams also had a big chance to add to Birmingham’s lead just past the hour mark as he got in behind the Atlanta defense and then sent two defenders away with a nice drag-back to put the ball on his left foot in the right side of the penalty area only to shoot wide of the far post. An error by Rios Novo almost led to Legion FC’s fourth midway through the second half as his errant pass was quickly delivered by Williams to Flemmings, but the Argentine goalkeeper recovered in time to turn his shot wide of the left post.
Atlanta almost pulled a goal back late as Caleb Wiley’s cross from the left was sent on by Ajani Fortune to Wolff in the right side of the penalty area, only for Birmingham’s Matt VanOekel to make a good save. That would be as close as the visitors came late on, however, as Legion FC closed out the victory.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
JJ Williams, Birmingham Legion FC – Williams had a goal and assist for the hosts in a solid performance leading the attacking line in an important victory.
ATL – Phillip Goodrum (Connor Stanley) 9’
BHM – JJ Williams (Jonathan Dean) 11’
BHM – Mikey Lopez 49’
BHM – Junior Flemmings (JJ Williams) 51’