Charlotte (NC) – The Charlotte Independence (1-1-2) travel to take on the Rochester Rhinos (1-1-2) this Saturday, April 29th at Capelli Sports Stadium with a 6:00 PM ET kickoff. The Independence head into Saturday’s game coming off their first win of the season in Saint Louis and a two-goal, United Soccer League (USL) Player of the Week performance from 2016 MVP Finalist Enzo Martinez.
“I’m thankful for the honor of [the award],” said Martinez. “It means a lot to me, but we want points and that’s what we went to Saint Louis for.”
Last Saturday’s victory was not only the first win of the season for the Independence, but the first time in franchise history that the team beat Saint Louis. The Independence fell behind early on a José Angulo goal for Saint Louis in the fourth minute. Later in the first half, Enzo Martinez would add an unassisted goal in the eighth minute and the game-winner in the 29th minute assisted by Yann Ekra.
“It's obviously great for us to have [Enzo] back in the lineup and playing,” said Independence Head Coach Mike Jeffries. “For someone who had played 15 minutes coming into that game, I thought he had a tremendous game and not only the two plays for goals, but there's a lot of other plays where he has good ideas and shows a lot of energy in trying to make plays.”
With the Independence playing four of the next six home games away and only two league games in the month of May, it will be important for the club to get points early in the season. The next test for the Independence comes against the Rochester Rhinos, who ended the Independence’s season in the first round of the 2016 USL Playoffs. Head Coach Jeffries understands that there will be some emotions carried over from an emotional 3-1 loss that included three red cards for the Charlotte side.
“Certainly it's in there some way, shape, or form, but the reality is this is a new season,” said Jeffries. “I think our guys are experienced enough that they'll carry that mentality they'll have.”
Rochester comes into Saturday’s game on a 2-2 draw with New York Red Bulls II, the reigning USL Champions, in their 2017 home opener. The Rhinos sit at five points in the table in four games, which is even with Charlotte in the respective categories. In 2016, Rochester gave up the third-fewest goals allowed (25) in the USL.
“They're always very organized,” said Jeffries. “They're always very prepared with specific tactics for the opponent. I'm sure this game will be no different.”
The Saturday, April 29th game will be broadcast on WCCB’s Antenna TV (Spectrum channel 1261, OTA 18.2) and on the USL’s Match Center via YouTube. Kickoff is set for 6:00 PM ET.