Game Recaps presented by Wells Fargo
CHARLOTTE, NC (Sept. 10, 2016) – David Estrada scored twice on Saturday night to power the Charlotte Independence (14-7-6) to a 4-0 win over the visiting Pittsburgh Riverhounds (6-16-5) at Ramblewood Stadium. The victory moved Charlotte into third place in the Eastern Conference standings with 48 points.
“This is what you want your team to be, being at its best towards the end of the season and that’s what’s happening for us,” said Estrada after the match.
The Independence’s Brian Brown nodded in the opener before Estrada added a pair of goals either side of the break. Second-half substitute Jorge Herrera scored a fourth in stoppage time, as Charlotte has now scored nine goals over a two-game stretch.
Goalkeeper John Berner preserved his sixth clean sheet of the season with the Wells Fargo Save of the Game in the 88th minute, as he hit the ground to keep out a point-blank shot.
“It was difficult for us,” said Independence Head Coach Mike Jeffries. “They (Pittsburgh) sat in pretty deep and made it hard to play against. We didn’t move the ball quite quickly enough and didn’t vary our rhythm and we hit a spot where we weren’t quite good enough to break them down.”
Despite a large share of the possession, which included five first half corners, the hosts had to withstand just two half chances from Pittsburgh. The Riverhounds’ leading goal scorer, Corey Hertzog, had just one attempt on target, which came when he fired straight at Berner in the 17th minute. Berner, who returned to Charlotte following his recall by the Colorado Rapids during the international break, was then in position to save Zak Boggs’ volleyed effort on 26 minutes.
Just when it looked as if the first half was destined to finish without a goal, Brown, who scored his eighth of the season, popped up at the back post to divert Joel Johnson’s cross into the net after 37 minutes.
Alex Martinez nearly doubled the lead five minutes later, but his shot found the grasp of Riverhounds keeper Zack Steffen. Estrada instead made it 2-0 on the stroke of halftime, as he placed Enzo Martinez’ cross into the goal with Charlotte’s second header of the match.
Surmounting pressure against the Pittsburgh back line allowed Jun Marques Davidson to break into the box setting up the third goal in the 54th minute, as Estrada directed the rebound with his head to the far post.
“I think we matched our season total for headers,” said Jeffries.
Against the run of play, Hertzog fired a shot wide of the right upright as Pittsburgh looked for a consolation goal.
Herrera, who came on for the final 17 minutes, made it 4-0 after connecting onto the end of Aly Hassan’s pass through the middle of the defense.
The Independence faces a quick turnaround and will travel to Richmond on Wednesday, Sept. 14, for their third meeting of the season with the Kickers before returning to Ramblewood Stadium to face the Rochester Rhinos on Saturday, Sept. 17, in the final home game of the season.
Charlotte: Berner, Greenspan, Duckett (c), Kalungi, Hilton (Clowes 73), A. Martinez (Ekra 73), Davidson (Hassan 86), Estrada, Brown (Ochoa 86), E. Martinez (Herrera 72).
Unused subs: Mizell (GK), Metcalf.
Goals: Brown (37), Estrada (45, 54).
Pittsburgh: Steffen, Hollingsworth (Martinez 46), Hunt, Campbell, Boggs, Moloto (N. Thompson 66), Adeleye (Okai 63), Kerr (c), Hertzog, Green (Russell 82), Walsh (J. Thompson 78).
Unused subs: Alfery (GK), Murrel.
— compiled by Allen Gunn, Charlotte Independence