BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Bruno Lapa recorded two goals and one assist while five different players found the net for Birmingham Legion FC overall in a 6-0 victory against Sporting Kansas City II on Sunday evening at BBVA Field that returned the side to first place in the USL Championship’s Central Division ahead of its showdown for first place next Saturday night against Louisville City FC.
The hosts opened brightly and in the third minute Neco Brett found space to shoot from the left side of the penalty area to the far corner but was denied by SKC II goalkeeper John Pulskamp. Legion FC took the lead a minute later, however, when Ryan James and Junior Flemmings combined to play Zach Herivaux into the left side of the penalty area. The Haiti international squared a pass to Lapa, whose shot hit the left post, but a header by an SKC II defender came back to Herivaux who calmly finished into the right corner of the net for what was ruled a good goal after initially being flagged as offside following a discussion between the officiating crew.
Legion FC doubled its lead in the 18th minute as off a throw-in from the left by James, Brett flicked a pass inside the penalty area into the path of Lapa, who fired a first-time shot toward the far corner that Pulskamp got a hand to but couldn’t keep out as it flew into the corner of the net. Four minutes later the hosts carved out another chance when Brett delivered a chipped cross from inside the top-right edge of the penalty area that Flemmings headed over as he stretched to get in front of his marker.
Brett then made it a three-goal game in the 31st minute after Prosper Kasim played a pass that found Lapa in the right side of the penalty area, and while his pass across the penalty area intended for the Jamaican was intercepted, Brett picked up the pieces and shot home into the left side of the net for his 18th goal of the season. Lapa added a fourth with six minutes to go before the break, too, as he initially tried to flick a pass inside the penalty area to Flemmings off a pass from the left by James, but then shot home into the left corner after the pass was blocked straight back to him by a defender.
Sporting almost pulled a goal back in the 41st minute when the ball fell to Mataeo Bunbury in the penalty area after a free kick from the right, giving him a chance for a turning shot to the left corner that was parried away by Birmingham goalkeeper Matt VanOekel. Legion FC threatened a fifth eight minutes into the second half, meanwhile, when Flemmings latched onto a pass from Kasim played into the left side of the penalty area and cut to his right past Pulskamp as he came off his line, but four covering defenders provided cover as his finish went just wide of the left post.
Flemmings got his goal with 20 minutes to go, however, as Jonathan Dean was played in on the right side and cut back a pass for the Jamaican inside the penalty area that the 2020 Championship Golden Boot winner drove into the bottom-left corner of the net. Six minutes later, Kasim added another after Legion FC turned possession over in SKC II’s defensive third before Lapa sent a pass across the top of the penalty area for the Ghanaian to strike into the left corner of the net from 20 yards.
Lapa almost completed his hat trick with nine minutes to go but was denied by a good save from Pulskamp on a shot from the right side of the penalty area after a deft pass into the right side of the penalty area by Flemmings, but the hosts saw out the remaining minutes to claim an impressive victory ahead of the biggest game of their season next weekend.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Bruno Lapa, Birmingham Legion FC – Lapa recorded two goals and one assist while finishing with six shots and four key passes overall as he also completed 33 of 40 passes as the hosts swept to victory.
BHM – Zach Herivaux 4’
BHM – Bruno Lapa (Neco Brett) 18’
BHM – Neco Brett 31’
BHM – Bruno Lapa 39’
BHM – Junior Flemmings (Jonathan Dean) 70’
BHM – Prosper Kasim (Bruno Lapa) 76’