In the least surprising story of the preseason game, USL Most Valuable Player Finalist and Independence forward, Enzo Martinez scored the opening goal versus his alma mater.
"That's what Enzo does," said Independence Head Coach Mike Jeffries. "He makes plays and today was no different. He's always in for chances and he's always got clever ideas."
The second Independence score of the game came late in the second half by forward Darius Strode. With only 14 players in Saturday’s game under contract, the preseason roster is filled out with trial players looking to earn a contract for this season.
Who else showed out for Charlotte?
"It was nice to see [Jared] Odenbeck," said Jeffries. "I thought he was very solid at the back. Luke Waechter was very solid with good passing out of the back and composed and handled his end defensively. I thought those two guys did well. Jacob [Bender] also had some clever ideas when he came on at left midfield."
The UNC Men’s soccer team was shutout, but did pose a threat at some points in the match. Specifically, the Tar Heels looked most dangerous when they applied high pressure to the Charlotte defenders to force turnovers in the Independence third.
"The only issues we had defensively were counters off of giveaways," said Independence Head Coach Mike Jeffries. "[They were] most effective when they'd win a ball in the middle of the field off of their pressure or us making a mistake. We weren't as clean as what we should be, but we're two weeks in."
One week after scoring a goal in his first professional preseason game, midfielder Callum Ross returned to his home field where he played his college career at Wingate University.
"I didn't think I was going to be back this quick," said Ross. "It feels kinda like home. Obviously, I'm happy with the boys and getting the two-nil win. It was a good week."
Last season, midfielder Yann Ekra recorded one minute over 1300 in playing time. None of them at the center forward position. In Saturday’s game Ekra played the second half in a more attacking position, possibly as the nine (or center forward).
"It was a nice chance for us to look at Yann in a more attacking role," said Jeffries. "He's a great box-to-box guy but he's got some good ideas in the final third. He was dangerous there last season. So it was a good opportunity with us not really having any strikers..nines in training camp to take a look at that."
In two ways the “12th man” was a storyline from Saturday’s preseason game. Primarily, the 12th man and first substitute to enter the pitch for Charlotte was midfielder Alex Martinez, who came on for defender Joel Johnson. In a coordinating move, David Spies moved to right back. Martinez was issued a yellow card later on in the first half. The second way the “12th man” was prevalent in this game was the fans that traveled to the game. Although not an overwhelming crowd, the Jack’s loyalty can never be called into question.
With the Charlotte preseason record sitting at 1-1, the Independence will spend the next week in training thinking about their next opponent; North Carolina FC. The last time the two teams squared off was in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup game to which NCFC topped Charlotte in overtime by a final score of 5-0. That victory evened the Open Cup series wins at one apiece.