CHARLOTTE, NC (Sept. 16, 2016) — The Charlotte Independence (14-7-7) on Saturday night return to Ramblewood Stadium for their 2016 home finale. The match, versus defending USL Champion the Rochester Rhinos (11-5-12), will be the third in eight days for the Independence, as Charlotte is coming off a 0-0 draw in Richmond on Wednesday night.
Both the Independence and Rhinos have clinched their spots in the postseason and are battling for a top four finish to earn home field advantage. Charlotte currently sits in fourth place, just four points ahead of Rochester, Richmond and Charleston. A win for the Independence on Saturday night would clinch a home playoff match, as would a draw with Rochester combined with a draw between Richmond and Charleston.
The Rhinos enter Charlotte on the heels of a seven game unbeaten streak, including a 1-1 draw with first place New York Red Bulls II on Sept. 10. Rochester’s offense is lead by Christian Volesky with 23 points (10g, 3a), following by Steevan dos Santos (6g, 5a), Joseph Farrell (5g, 1a) and Kenardo Forbes (3g, 4a).
These two teams last met in Rochester back on May 14, battling to a 0-0 draw.
“Rochester is always very organized, very disciplined and a very structured team that’s hard to break down on any year,” said Independence Head Coach Mike Jeffries. “Obviously last year they were unbelievable defensively, but they’re always very strong, they always know their roles as players and they work pretty hard. So for us the key issue will be finding ways to create some chances and take the game to them.”
The Independence had scored 12 goals in its previous three matches before being shutout at Richmond on Wednesday night in a frustrating match that saw just one true shot on goal for Charlotte. Enzo Martinez, who leads the club with nine goals and five assists, created the lone opportunity.
Meanwhile, goalkeeper John Berner and the defensive unit — anchored by Bilal Duckett and Henry Kalungi — have been stellar, allowing just seven goals in the last 10 matches, a streak in which Charlotte has gone 6-1-3.
Defense could be the story again on Saturday, as both the Independence and Rhinos have yet to allow more than two goals in a single match. Kickoff between Charlotte and Rochester is set 7:00pm at Ramblewood Stadium.