The Southern Harm rivalry has produced some incredible highlights over its short history, with the sides set to renew their rivalry on Saturday night at AutoZone Park. | Photo courtesy Eric Glemser / Memphis 901 FC
Since their first meeting in the 2019 USL Championship regular season, the Southern Harm rivalry between Birmingham Legion FC and Memphis 901 FC has delivered outstanding individual moments and performances that have quickly made it one of the must-see matchups in the league.
Saturday night’s clash at AutoZone Park (8:30 p.m. ET | ESPN+) might be the biggest game in the series so far. Memphis currently sits in second place in the Eastern Conference standings, while Birmingham is in fourth as both teams vie for a high seed in the 2022 USL Championship Playoffs.
As we’ve seen in prior contests, there’s always the chance of something memorable happening. Here are six prior occasions that left one set of fans on Cloud 9, and the others cursing their fortune.
There are few players as beloved by Birmingham Legion FC’s fanbase as Ghanaian midfielder Anderson Asiedu. Part of the team since its inaugural season, the 26-year-old sits fourth in the club’s history for appearances. He doesn’t score many goals, but when he does, they tend to be memorable. Just look at his 90th-minute winner when Legion FC grabbed victory against Memphis earlier this season, adding another chapter to his story with the Three Sparks.
Due to the abbreviated 2020 regular season, Cal Jennings’ time at Memphis 901 FC wasn’t extensive, but the goals he produced – especially in a late season run – propelled him into his current spot with Los Angeles FC in Major League Soccer. His finale in 901 FC’s colors provided a signature sign-off, notching a hat trick against the club’s biggest rival to end the season on a high note as current Head Coach Ben Pirmann’s final audition for the job as interim provided a glimpse of what was to come.
If there’s a recurring theme to Southern Harm, it’s to make sure you don’t leave your seat before the final whistle. In 2019, both games were decided in the 90th minute or later, with Daniel Johnson giving Legion FC the first victory of the series with his clever individual finish at BBVA Field. That result was part of a nine-game undefeated streak that helped propel Birmingham into the playoffs at the end of its inaugural campaign and set a trend that has been maintained each year.
Birmingham Legion FC was one of the few sides that hadn’t taken the field prior to the suspension of the 2020 regular season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which meant their new first-year signing Bruno Lapa had to wait a while for his official professional debut. In a nationally televised clash against Memphis and former United States international Tim Howard, the Brazilian made his mark immediately with a two goal, one assist performance that earned him player of the Week honors and quickly made him a fan favorite.
You can hear it in the voice of the commentary team. They can’t believe what they just saw, and neither can anyone else. Adam Najem not only chasing down Elliot Collier’s long pass forward before it crossed the goal line but having the presence of mind to conjure up a piece of skill that allowed him to shift pass the trailing defender and then another before setting up Duane Muckette for the easiest finish of his career was a jaw-dropping moment, and one that helped spark the rivalry to life in the first meeting between 901 FC and Legion FC.
There have been some incredible stoppage-time game-winners in the USL Championship’s history over the years. What Raul Gonzalez did to send Memphis to a 3-2 victory against Legion FC at AutoZone Park – capping two goals in stoppage time to turn defeat into a thrilling victory – might be the one that tops the list. The Puerto Rico international’s scissor kick finish into the top-left corner of the net brought bedlam on the field and in the stands and lit up social media in the days that followed.