Goals scored by #11 Tresor Mbuyu and #90 Khori Bennett
Charlotte, N.C. (May 21, 2023) – The Charlotte Independence came from behind to take the win against in-state rivals North Carolina FC on Sunday afternoon at American Legion Memorial Stadium. The Jacks are back at home this Saturday, May 27 and play host to the visiting Chattanooga Red Wolves SC. First kick is at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale now at charlotteindependence.com.
“I thought even though we conceded early in the second half, we were good and we showed good character coming back from conceding the first goal to get a result,” Charlotte Independence Head Coach, Mike Jeffries said.
Both North Carolina clubs looked to claim their territory with lots of chippy play in the early minutes. The first corner kick of the game came in the 4th minute taken by North Carolina FC’s #13 Louis Perez. Charlotte’s #8 Joel Johnson stepped in its path and sent the ball up towards the Independence attack.
North Carolina FC remained persistent. In the 7th minute, Perez dribbled into the 18 yard box, but was met by a sea of blue Independence defenders who regained possession for the Jacks.
In the 12th minute, Charlotte’s #7 Avionne Flanagan was served a ball into the 18 yard box. He had a good look at goal, but was denied by the North Carolina FC goalie.
About 12 minutes later, a flick on by Flanagan found #17 Clay Dimick on the overlap. He played a through ball to #9 Dane Kelly who looked to chip the keeper but missed high over the crossbar.
“It was great to have Dane back in,” Jeffries said. “I thought he did a lot of work. He actually set up a couple of the really good chances we had. I thought his energy was fantastic.”
The Jacks continued to push forward. In the 35th minute, #2 Fabrice Ngah played a through ball to the dashing #6 Omar Ciss. He found himself in behind and put the ball into the back of the net, but the goal was called back as offside by the sideline referee.
The last play of the half came from the Independence in the 40th minute. Kelly played a low cross into the box for #11 Tresor Mbuyu who was sprinting towards the back post. The ball was just out of reach and rolled out of play.
Halftime: Charlotte Independence 0 – North Carolina FC 0.
Right out of the gates in the 47th minute, North Carolina’s #9 Oalex Anderson scored a left footed strike off a pass from #19 Garrett McLaughlin. North Carolina went up early by one.
Charlotte looked to answer in the 51st minute when Johnson received a brilliant pass from Mbuyu. He sent it into the box and found Ibarra who got a head on it but missed over the crossbar.
In the 55th minute, Charlotte’s goalkeeper #1 Austin Pack kept the Independence hopes alive by making a diving save on a shot from North Carolina’s Perez, who dribbled around his defenders to take the shot.
The Jacks built momentum off that save, and in the 61st minute, Charlotte’s Mbuyu scored on an original shot taken by Ibarra. His strike was deflected and fell right to Mbuyu’s feet. He had the keeper beat and passed it into the back of the net. The score now tied, 1-1.
“The team came together and we all helped each other,” Mbuyu said. “That one broke the ice and there’s more to come.”
In the 75th minute, Head Coach Mike Jeffries made a tactical substitution, bringing in #90 Khori Bennett for #8 Joel Johnson.
In the 81st minute, Ciss took a corner kick for the Independence. He sent the ball into the box and found Bennett who headed the ball into the back of the net, putting the Jacks up 2-1 with 11 minutes left in regulation.
“It was a big game, we knew it was a big game against NCFC. Obviously, they’re top of the table right now, so we knew it was going to be a good game,” Bennett said. “We were up for it. We had two difficult results but that didn’t phase us at all. We’re a tough group and the best way to overcome adversity is to win.”
In the 89th minute, Bennett looked for his second goal of the match, taking a right footed shot from the center of the box, but his attempt was blocked by the North Carolina defense.
Final Score: Charlotte Independence 2 – North Carolina FC 1.
NEXT ON THE SCHEDULE: The Independence return home on Saturday, May 27 to take on Chattanooga Red Wolves SC. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. at American Legion Memorial Stadium.