Photo courtesy New York Red Bulls II
MONTCLAIR, N.J. – The Charlotte Independence scored three times in the opening hour, and then held on late, to earn a 3-2 victory against the New York Red Bulls II at MSU Soccer Park on Saturday for their sixth consecutive victory. New York forced the first big save of the game in the 15th minute, with Independence Cody Mizell deflecting a low shot by Douglas Martinez off a quick counterattack just over the bar as the effort jammed off the turf off Mizell’s leg and floated high. The Independence took the lead, however, as a free kick by Jorge Herrera curled perfectly over the wall and into the right corner in the 21st minute. Herrera almost set up another for the Independence, only for a slight deflection before his cross reached Austin Yearwood catching the defender out as he sent his header high. New York went close just before halftime as Dan Metzger’s free kick found Florian Valot, but his header was comfortably saved, while Charlotte’s Enzo Martinez flashed a shot just wide, but the Independence added a second in first half stoppage time as Red Bulls II defender Hassan Ndam turned a low cross by Joel Johnson into his own net. Martinez found the net eight minutes into the second half as a counterattack from a Red Bulls II free kick saw Yearwood find Herrera with a deep cross from the left, and the Colombian set up the 2016 USL Most Valuable Player Finalist for a simple finish. Johnson almost added a fourth with 18 minutes to go as he hit the left post with a low finish. The Red Bulls II tried to rally late, and pulled a goal back with eight minutes to go on David Najem’s low shot to the left corner. Junior Flemmings added a second for the hosts off Vincent Bezecourt’s eighth assist of the season from a corner, too, but the comeback attempt came up short as the Independence held on.
21’ – CLT – Jorge Herrera
45+’ – CLT – Hassan Ndam (own goal)
53’ – CLT – Enzo Martinez (Jorge Herrera)
82’ – NY – David Najem (Florian Valot)
85’ – NY – Junior Flemmings (Vincent Bezecourt)
Three Things That Matter:
1. The Independence took a little time to settle, but once the side hit its attacking stride it cruised to a sixth consecutive victory to continue its outstanding run of recent form and at least temporarily move into the top two in the USL Eastern Conference. The passing and movement from the Independence moved the ball into good positions, and the Red Bulls II defense out of position, which played a role in the Independence’s opening two goals. Joel Johnson was involved in both, being fouled after a good give-and-go as he cut through the right channel from his fullback position to set up Jorge Herrera’s spectacular opener, and then providing the low cross that Red Bulls II defender Hassan Ndam turned into his own net.
2. Herrera’s goal was not only his 10th of the season, but also his 50th in the USL regular season since the league’s inception in 2011. The 36-year-old Colombian has been one of the best stories of the season, and has now tied his single-season high in the league as well, having notched 10 goals in both the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Once again a reliable starter for the Independence, the partnership between Herrera and Enzo Martinez continues to go from strength-to-strength, powering Charlotte forward.
3. The news of Red Bulls II leading scorer Brandon Allen’s loan to Minnesota United FC had been rumored for a while, and with its official announcement on Saturday the 2016 USL Rookie of the Year and USL Cup Final Most Valuable Player will get a good opportunity alongside another player who found success in the USL on his way to the top in Christian Ramirez. The move is certainly a good one for all involved, but leaves the Red Bulls II needing a consistent threat if they’re to return to the playoffs. Honduras U20 international Douglas Martinez would appear to be the choice moving forward, while Junior Flemmings might get more opportunity after his late tally that almost played a part in an improbable comeback. With 11 games to go, though, the Red Bulls II need to get in gear if they’re to have a chance at defending their title this postseason.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Jorge Herrera, Charlotte Independence – Herrera’s 50th goal in the USL regular season was reason alone to celebrate, but a sixth consecutive win made his strong performance all the sweeter.
New York Red Bulls II vs. Toronto FC II – July 21, 7 p.m. ET, MSU Soccer Park
Charlotte Independence at Harrisburg City Islanders – July 18, 7 p.m. ET, FNB Field