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How Matt Corcoran’s calm play helped Legion FC to victory | Young Player Spotlight

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 03/27/23, 12:10PM EDT


Central midfielder put in composed performance on road; Villanueva strikes in positive OCSC display

Birmingham Legion FC's Matt Corcoran made his first start in the USL Championship on Saturday afternoon and put in a composed display to help the side to victory in Hartford. | Photo courtesy Alex Zito / Hartford Athletic

In a lineup where the median age is 28 years old, Birmingham Legion FC’s Matt Corcoran stands out.

But when the 17-year-old was handed his first start in the USL Championship on Saturday in a tricky road assignment at Hartford Athletic on Saturday for the Eastern Conference contender, he looked absolutely at home in the middle of the park.

The numbers Corcoran delivered might not have been flashy, but his play provided the connections around which Legion FC was able to build and find success in its 1-0 victory at Trinity Health Stadium. Completing 40 of 48 passes – the most of anyone in the Birmingham lineup – and notching three chances created – which tied for the team high alongside Enzo Martinez, the eldest player on the team at 32 years of age – the FC Dallas Academy graduate was composed on the ball, finding the right pass consistently.

It's a trait that Legion FC Head Coach Tom Soehn believes is a major strength for Corcoran.

“I thought Matt did a good job in the middle,” said Soehn. “One thing with Matt is he’s very good when we have the ball, and I thought he definitely moved the ball well and found the gaps. He understands the position, and when you have quality guys around you, having someone that understands the position helps aid in your shape and everything. So, he did a good job tonight for sure.”

Corcoran made 11 appearances as a substitute last season, during which he logged 168 minutes. This year looks like it could be one in which the young standout makes a major step forward and helps Legion FC toward its bigger goals in the process.

Here’s who else caught our eye over the past weekend…

  • Fidel Barajas, Charleston Battery – When your first professional goal is that good, and you pick up a second assist of the season, you get top billing elsewhere on the site.

  • Alex Villanueva, Orange County SC – The 20-year-old might not get the same spotlight yet as young teammate Korede Osundina, but his first goal for OCSC was excellent, and he also completed 35 of 39 passes and won 3 of 3 tackles.

  • Carlos Moguel Jr., Louisville City FC – Saturday was a day to forget for most of LouCity’s players, but Moguel was an exception. In central midfield he completed 41 of 47 passes, made 10 recoveries and won 3 of 4 tackles.

  • Chris Pearson, FC Tulsa – The 20-year-old Jamaican came on to help see out the result for Tulsa and completed a perfect 9 of 9 passes while making one interception in 20 minutes of action.

  • Duilio Herrera, Rio Grande Valley FC – The local product came on as a second-half substitute and completed 11 of 11 passes and made three recoveries in an active 12-minute shift to help the Toros grab a late point.

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