Prosper Kasim's second-half goal earned Birmingham Legion FC a 1-0 victory against Charlotte FC of Major League Soccer to earn a place in the Quarterfinals of the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night. | Photo courtesy Birmingham Legion FC
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Who else could it be but Prosper Kasim to deliver a magic night in the Magic City?
The Birmingham Legion FC original scored the only goal with a sumptuous finish from 25 yards to send his side to a 1-0 victory against Charlotte FC on Wednesday night before a raucous club-record crowd of 12,722 at Protective Stadium and into the Quarterfinals of the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup for the first time in club history.
Legion FC will play host to Inter Miami CF on June 6 or 7, when Head Coach Tom Soehn’s side will look to build off its first win – at its first opportunity – against an opponent from Major League Soccer.
Birmingham had to weather pressure early from the visitors, with Charlotte having the first good chance on goal in the eighth minute when Kerwin Vargas had a low shot to the left corner saved by Trevor Spangenberg. The Legion FC goalkeeper had to be sharp again in the 24th minute when Polish international Karol Swiderski got free in the left side of the penalty area and fired a shot that Spangenberg initially parried into the air before gathering at the second attempt inside his six-yard area.
The visitors went even closer in the 28th minute as Brandon Cambridge was played into the right side of the penalty area but shot off the left post as the rebound caromed to safety. After that let-off, however, Legion FC began to find chances of its own with Juan Agudelo twice going close just past the half-hour mark.
With the game scoreless at the break, and Charlotte looking the more likely side to score, the tide turned in Legion FC’s favor six minutes into the second half when the visitors were reduced to 10 men as Adilson Malanda was sent off after receiving a second yellow card. The hosts immediately grabbed the impetus, taking control of more possession initially before Kasim struck on the hour-mark. Agudelo slid a pass up the right flank that allowed the winger to cut inside onto his left foot between a pair of defenders before precisely firing a low shot into the bottom-left corner of the net to give Legion FC the lead.
STAR BOY— Birmingham Legion FC (@bhmlegion) May 25, 2023
1-0 | #USOC2023 | #HammerDown pic.twitter.com/4tweOPsfRm
Birmingham almost added to its lead in the minutes that followed as Collin Smith stumbled under pressure after a through-ball by Agudelo but still got away a testing shot that was saved by CFC goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina. A minute later Agudelo shot high and wide from the center of the penalty area after Kasim’s low cross found him with a chance to fire on the turn.
The man-advantage proved key as Legion FC continued to control the flow of the game, however, and it wasn’t until a long-range effort by Justin Meram with 14 minutes to go that Charlotte registered its first shot of the second half. Patrick Agyemang also had a pair of chances for the visitors in the late going, but neither tested Spangenberg as Birmingham saw out a thrilling victory.