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Legion FC's Nwegbo highlights Path 2 Pro with superb first finish | Young Player Spotlight

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 06/19/23, 2:00PM EDT


21-year-old was standout for Vermont Green FC in USL League Two last summer, breaks through in Birmingham win

Birmingham Legion FC's Diba Nwegbo bagged his first goal in the USL Championship on Saturday night after starring for Vermont Green FC last summer in USL League Two. | Photo courtesy Birmingham Legion FC

When you put up the strike rate Birmingham Legion FC forward Diba Nwegbo did last summer for Vermont Green FC in USL League Two – his 10 goals came at an average of a goal every 66 minutes while earning All-Eastern Conference honors – then the dry spell the young forward has experienced to start his professional career certainly could be frustrating.

On Saturday night at Protective Stadium, though, the 21-year-old showed the qualities that brought him to Legion FC as his first goal in the USL Championship helped the hosts to an important 2-1 victory against Indy Eleven.

“I saw that Anderson [Asiedu] made an interception and it was a play where I knew that I could make something happen if you got it to me because I was so close to the box,” said Nwegbo. “And then once I got it, I just cut inside. It’s my first instinct to cut inside and take a shot. I gave the keeper the eyes and put it in the near post.

“It means so much. I’ve been working really hard for that, just trying to trust the coaches and the entire team. And I’m glad that today finally paid off. I was able to get in and make an impact with the goal. I’m very happy.”

As important as the pipelines clubs are setting up for teenage standouts to move into the professional ranks at younger ages – with Legion FC and midfielder Matthew Corcoran a prime example – the opportunities players can earn coming through League Two remain consistently.

While Nwegbo was putting home his first goal in the Championship on Saturday, on Sunday his fellow League Two All-Eastern Conference selection last year Moise Bombito (Seacoast United Phantoms) was on the bench for Canada in its Concacaf Nations League Final against the United States.

Hopefully, Saturday was the first of many goals in the professional ranks for Nwegbo as he makes the most of his opportunity in the Championship.

Here are some other young players who caught our eye this week…

- Erik McCue, El Paso Locomotive FC: The 22-year-old center back had a combined 15 clearances, won 11 of 14 duels and completed 89 of 107 passes across two games while scoring the winner in El Paso’s win against Las Vegas last Wednesday night.

- Fidel Barajas, Charleston Battery: The Mexico U-17 international picked up his fifth assist of the season on AJ Paterson’s superb winner against Hartford. He also won 5 of 9 duels while completing 31 of 38 passes.

- Matt Corcoran, Birmingham Legion FC: The 17-year-old came on as a first-half substitute for Mikey Lopez and was strong on the ball, completing 32 of 38 passes, and helped set up Enzo Martinez’s late winner.

- Tomas Ritondale, Rio Grande Valley FC: The 21-year-old made a late impact for the Toros, setting up Christian Pinzon’s late equalizer at New Mexico United for his first assist of the season.

- Jackson Hopkins, Loudoun United FC: The 18-year-old produced a brilliant finish that stood as the winner in Loudoun’s 2-1 victory against Miami FC.

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