CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Enzo Martinez scored the only goal as the Charlotte Independence took a 1-0 victory against Loudoun United FC on Wednesday evening at American Legion Memorial Stadium to earn their sixth consecutive victory and remain on course for a home game to start the postseason with one game to go in their regular season campaign.
Looking to notch his 100th regular season goal in the Championship’s regular season, Charlotte’s Dane Kelly twice went close to giving the hosts the lead early as inside the first minute he volleyed wide of the target off a cross from Enzo Martinez on the right before in the sixth minute he was denied by Loudoun goalkeeper Jonathan Mennell after Martinez gave him a chance to shoot after being played in behind the back line.
Loudoun also had an early chance a couple of minutes later when Jacob Greene played a pass through for Michael Gamble at the top of the penalty area, only for Independence goalkeeper Austin Pack to make a good save to keep him out. The visitors threatened again in the 26th minute when Jovanny Bolivar squeezed a shot just wide of the left post after a good pass by Houssou Landry.
The Independence regained control after the half-hour mark and in the 33rd minute Gabriel Obertan had a good turning shot from just inside the penalty area to the right corner turned away by Mennell. Five minutes later, however, the French midfielder received possession on the right and cut a cross back for Martinez, who controlled and shot low into the left corner of the net.
Kelly almost added a second for the hosts in the final minute before the break but his flicked header off a cross by Adam Armour on the left was parried by Mennell and cleared by his defense. Less than a minute into the second half, meanwhile, Pack had to be sharp for the hosts as Landry got into the left side of the penalty area for a narrow-angle shot that was blocked away.
Charlotte had a pair of chances to add to its lead midway through the second half, the first coming in the 68th minute when Armour played a back-post cross from the left that found Martinez for a header that Mennell kept from just sneaking inside the right upright. Four minutes later, Kelly turned over possession in the Loudoun half and the resulting attack saw the ball come to Marcelo Palomino for a curling shot just wide of the left post.
Landry went close again for United with 16 minutes to go with a venomous strike from 25 yards that dipped just wide of the left post, while in the 80th minute his teammate Gaoussou Samake delivered another long-range effort that Pack turned wide of the left post. The Independence closed out the game, however, to earn an important victory and remain in second place in the Atlantic Division going to the final game of the regular season.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Enzo Martinez, Charlotte Independence – Martinez scored the lone goal of the game with a nice finish and had four shots overall while recording two key passes and winning 2 of 2 tackles.
CLT – Enzo Martinez (Gabriel Obertan) 38’