Birmingham Legion FC forward Juan Agudelo is set to face a former club as the Three Sparks and Inter Miami CF square off for the first time on Wednesday night in the Quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. | Photo courtesy Birmingham Legion FC
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Birmingham Legion FC will try to continue its deepest run in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in club history on Wednesday night at Protective Stadium when it plays host to an Inter Miami CF side that has also advanced to the Quarterfinals of the tournament for the first time in its history, but is currently sitting in last place in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. ET on the CBS Golazo Network.
ABOUT LEGION FC
The Three Sparks welcome top-flight opposition for the second consecutive round on Wednesday after defeating Charlotte FC before a club-record crowd of 12,772 fans in the Round of 16 two weeks ago when Prosper Kasim’s goal proved the difference for the hosts. Part of the club’s inaugural squad in 2019, the Ghanaian’s strike from 25 yards on the hour-mark added to his list of firsts in club history, which also include scoring the first goal for Legion FC in the USL Championship.
Legion FC’s Open Cup success has come in stark contrast to its league form, where the side has lost five consecutive games after at one point sitting on top of the Eastern Conference early in the season. Now in sixth place in the standings, Head Coach Tom Soehn and his strong attacking corps – which also includes former United States international and notable USL Championship standouts Enzo Martinez and Tyler Pasher – can earn a place in the Semifinals and then translate that form to a positive run in the USL Championship over the next few months.
ABOUT INTER MIAMI
Inter Miami is a club in transition after the departure of Head Coach Phil Neville late last week after just over two years at the club. The change didn’t bring a shift in fortune for interim Head Coach Javier Morales, whose first game at the helm resulted in a 2-1 defeat against D.C. United on Saturday night that saw Miami remain in last place in the Eastern Conference. IMCF has lost five consecutive league games, adding to a six-game losing streak earlier in the season, but the side has produced in the Open Cup to reach the Quarterfinals for the first time in its history.
Goals by Franco Negri and Nicolas Stefanelli in either half lifted the team to a 2-1 victory against Nashville SC in the Round of 16 at DRV PNK Stadium, and the side has also earned victories against the USL Championship’s Miami FC in a penalty shootout and a 1-0 victory against the Charleston Battery earlier in the tournament. Despite the challenges the side faces, there are still plenty of well-known names in Inter’s ranks, including Venezuelan forward Josef Martinez and United States international DeAndre Yedlin that can make a difference for the side as it heads to Alabama.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Birmingham Legion FC – Juan Agudelo: The veteran forward spent the abbreviated 2020 season with Inter Miami and recorded three goals in 14 games before departing. Agudelo could be looking for a chance to get one over his former club this time around.
Inter Miami CF – Ben Cremeschi: The talented 18-year-old has stepped into the starting lineup due to injuries elsewhere and notched one assist in 12 games, and his quality on the ball will be a factor Birmingham must pay close attention to in its own half.