Amid thunderstorms, Memphis 901 FC traveled to Matthews, North Carolina to challenge Group G rivals Charlotte Independence. But despite an excellent first half performance, Memphis fell 3-2 to a Dane Kelly-inspired Charlotte comeback.
There were a few changes by Coach Tim Mulqueen for Memphis. Jimmy Hague started in goal, while captain Marc Burch returned to the starting lineup after a battle with back spasms. Meanwhile, Michael Reed replaced Jean-Christophe Koffi in midfield.
- courtesy Memphis 901 FC
And 901 FC almost got off to a perfect start in the first minute. Burch played a long ball over the top to Mark Segbers, whose cross was just headed over the goal by Brandon Allen.
But Memphis continued to play aggressively, and it didn’t take long before the breakthrough arrived. Duane Muckette played a lofted ball over the top to Mark Segbers, who beat his man and placed the ball through Charlotte keeper Brandon Miller’s legs in the 14th minute.
Charlotte had its first real effort in the game in the 33rd minute, and in spectacular style. Tresor Mbuyu attempted a bicycle kick from six yards out, but his effort crashed off the crossbar.
Memphis took its one-goal lead into halftime having set the pace for much of the first half, not even allowing Charlotte a shot on goal. However, a weather delay due to lightning ensured that each team got at least an extra half hour to hash things out in the locker room. Charlotte made one crucial substitution, sending on USL all-time leading scorer Dane Kelly for Mbuyu.
Kelly’s introduction gave Charlotte a bit more impetus early in the second half, but Memphis quickly doubled their lead in the 51st minute. Segbers was heavily involved again, picking up the ball near the halfway line and driving inward. He spotted Mentzingen’s run at the far post and beautifully lofted the ball over to the Brazilian, who made no mistake as he one-touched it past Miller for Memphis’ second goal.
Just two minutes later, however, Charlotte replied through Kelly. Fullback Joel Johnson crossed the ball from the touch line, and Kelly made no mistake when slotting the ball past Hague for 2-1.
Charlotte almost grabbed an equalizer immediately after the restart, but Hague made a good 1v1 stop. The goal, however, had lifted the Independence’s confidence considerably, and in the 59th minute, it drew a penalty. Enzo Martinez duly slotted it past Hague for 2-2, but the pressure didn’t stop there.
In the 68th minute, Luke Haakenson raced on to a long ball over the top of the Memphis defense before cutting inside and shooting past Hague to make it 3-2 to Charlotte. Moments later, midfielder Jake Aremon took down a long ball over the top with a chance to make it 4-2 for Charlotte, but blazed his effort over the bar.
The Independence continued to be on top for the rest of the 90, pressing high and denying Memphis the space it had thrived on in the first half. Dane Kelly had another 1v1 chance in the 88th minute, but Hague made another excellent stop. 901 FC couldn't muster any more decent chances, and the full-time whistle blew to seal a 3-2 victory for Charlotte. 901 FC remains bottom of Group G on five points.