CHARLOTTE, NC (Sept. 23, 2016) — The Charlotte Independence (14-8-7) this weekend travel to Louisville City FC (17-4-8) to conclude the 2016 USL regular season. While the Independence has clinched its spot in the postseason, the club is fighting to maintain its fourth-place standing in order to host a first-round playoff match.
Charlotte currently has 49 points, just one ahead of fifth-place Charleston and sixth-place Rochester. A win in Louisville would guarantee the Independence a home game, while a lesser result would leave the club reliant on the outcomes of Rochester-Toronto and Charleston-New York. Should all three teams finish the season with 49 points, Charlotte would remain in fourth position with the tiebreaker being total wins.
The Independence will need to rediscover its offensive firepower in order to top a dynamic Louisville squad that has won four straight, including a 5-1 drubbing of Saint Louis FC last weekend. After scoring 12 goals in three games – versus Cincinnati, at Toronto and versus Pittsburgh – Charlotte was held scoreless in its last two matches, a draw with Richmond on Wednesday, Sept. 14 and 1-0 loss to Rochester on Saturday, Sept. 17.
The Charlotte offense has proven to be quite versatile throughout the year with 11 different goal scorers, including eight players with multiple tallies. Enzo Martinez (9g, 5a) continues to lead the way, followed by Brian Brown (8g, 5a), Jorge Herrera (7g, 2a) and David Estrada (6g, 1a).
Another positive for the Independence is that goalkeeper John Berner, on loan from the Colorado Rapids, has been in top form over the last six weeks with just four goals allowed in his last seven matches. He will need another strong performance on Saturday night to keep high-scoring Louisville in check.
Louisville has recorded a total of 51 goals this season, lead by Jon Chandler Hoffman with 14. Other offensive threats include George Davis IV(5g, 2a), Guy Abend (5g, 1a), Cameron Lancaster (4g, 3a) and Aodhan Quinn (3g, 3a).
When these two teams first met in Charlotte for the season opener on March 26, the match came down to the wire. The Independence held Louisville scoreless until the 91st minute, when a penalty called against Charlotte lead to a free-kick goal into the upper left corner by Louisville’s Lancaster.