Photo courtesy Charlotte Independence
MATTHEWS, N.C. – The Charlotte Independence got a pair of goals by Jorge Herrera to earn a 2-2 draw with ATL UTD 2 on Saturday night at the Sportplex at Matthews to continue the undefeated start for both teams early in the regular season. Both teams had chances in the early going, including a powerful low shot by Atlanta’s Yosef Samuel that was saved by Charlotte’s Andrew Dykstra, but the visitors took the lead in the 28th minute as a surging run by George Bello forced a challenge by Charlotte defender Lee Jung-Soo that ended in his own net. The Independence leveled eight minutes before halftime as Jorge Herrera drove home a low finish from just inside the top of the penalty area into the left corner, but Atlanta pushed further into the game in the second half and was rewarded with eight minutes to go as Lagos Kunga drove past his marker on the right and scored from a narrow angle at the near post. Herrera hit back again three minutes later as the Colombian put home a close-range finish off a cross by Joel Johnson to level, and while a stoppage-time chance fell to Devon Sandoval for Atlanta that the forward put over the crossbar the sides left with honors even.
28’ – ATL – Lee Jung-Soo (own goal)
37’ – CLT – Jorge Herrera (Caleb Calvert)
82’ – ATL – Lagos Kunga (Oliver Shannon)
85’ – CLT – Jorge Herrera (Joel Johnson)
Three Things That Matter:
1. If there was any question the sort of impact ATL UTD 2 could have in the USL in its augural season after last weekend’s victory against the New York Red Bulls II, Saturday night’s road performance against a Charlotte Independence side that had won both of its first two games this season made a statement. While spoiled by the Independence’s late equalizer, Atlanta carried much of the play in the second half and showed it could cause problems further down the line in the Eastern Conference.
2. ATL UTD 2’s George Bello didn’t get credit for the opening goal of the game, but the 16-year-old put in a strong first start for the club with a positive all-around game that showed tremendous promise for the future. Bellow was consistently involved in his side’s build-up play and was composed enough to complete 33 of 38 passes, including a 75 percent accuracy rate in the attacking half.
3. At the other end of the age spectrum there remains Charlotte’s Jorge Herrera, whose two-goal display saved a point for the hosts and extended their undefeated start to the season. Now 38 years old, the Colombian has set off to another stellar start after a positive 2017 season, showing all the poise that has made him one of the USL’s standout performers for more than a decade.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Jorge Herrera, Charlotte Independence – Herrera’s pair of goals got the Independence back on level terms twice to keep the side’s undefeated start to the season intact.
Charlotte Independence at Nashville SC – April 7, 8:30 p.m. ET, First Tennessee Park
ATL UTD 2 vs. Penn FC – April 8, 4 p.m. ET, Coolray Field