Charlotte Independence soar past Toronto with 2-1 victory

Jorge Herrera ready to score on penalty. (Ed Berti)
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The Charlotte Independence were able to defeat Toronto FC II on Saturday night at the Matthews Sportsplex by a score of 2-1.  This was the second meeting of the two clubs this season and the Jacks were able to capitalize in both matches.

The game was originally schedule to be played in Toronto, however, due to problematic field conditions the contest was switched to Matthews.  The win gives the Jacks a 4-3-2 record putting them in sixth place in the 16 team Eastern Conference with 14 points.

Eamon Zahed in action at the Sportsplex. (Ed Berti)

The Jacks applied pressure early in the first half, but were not able to strike first until the 28th minute when the ageless Jorge Herrera scored his fifth goal of the season on a penalty kick for a 1-0 advantage.  The first half ended with Independence in comfortable position in control of the game and setting the tempo of the match with time of possession.

In the second half the Jacks applied offensive pressure upon their opponent from the start. Suddenly all the hard work paid off at the 49th minute, rookie midfielder Mutaya Mwape found Eamon Zayed open holding his position by the net who promptly smacked a back-post header past the goalkeeper for the score, giving the Jacks a 2-0 lead.  This was the rookies first professional assist of his young career.

Jacks Alex Martinez in action Saturday night. (Ed Berti)

With injuries to Cordell Cato, Caleb Calvert, and Bilal Duckett the Jacks had to turn to their youth to step up and they played exceptionally well to fill the gaps, especially defensemen Sam Vines who plays an attacking style.  However, after the second goal Toronto started substituting and became desperate to score by applying more offensive pressure pushing the ball downfield.  During this 17 minute period the visitors finally broke through with a goal at the 66th minute by Jordan Faria with 24 minutes remaining in regulation.

After the game Head Coach Mike Jeffries was pleased with the win and the 3 points, however, he expressed displeasure on how the team managed the game in the second half after Zayed’s goal, and not finishing strongly.  “I thought we had some good opportunities to score a third goal and were not able to get it done,” said Jeffries.

Jacks Joel Johnson passing ball into play. (Ed Berti)

However, coach had positive remarks about rookie Jake Areman who has been used as a consistent substitute this season.  “Jake has entered a lot of games and done well for us, his work rate was excellent to close the game out, he won a few balls, kept possession pretty well for us,” said Jeffries.

Toronto goalkeeper Gianluca Catalano making a save on shot by Herrera. (Ed Berti)

The Independence begins a four game road trip next weekend in Richmond against the Kickers who currently are in eleventh place with 10 points.  The team will then travel to Ottawa, New York and Atlanta before returning home to the Matthews Sportsplex on June 16th to take on the Charleston Battery.

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Ed Berti
Ed is retired and remains active as a freelance writer, local journalist and independent contractor. He is engaged in print and electronic media writing stories covering business, sports, hometown news and veteran's affairs including articles of interest to various media outlets. Ed is a graduate of Wagner College where he earned an MBA and holds a BBA from Pace University.
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