CHARLOTTE, NC (Sept. 13, 2016) — The Charlotte Independence (14-7-6) on Wednesday night face a pivotal road contest against the Richmond Kickers (12-7-8) at City Stadium. While both clubs have secured their places in the postseason, home field advantage is still to be determined for the first round of the playoffs. The fourth place spot is currently occupied by Charlotte with 48 points, while Richmond ranks seventh with 44 points.
The Independence enters Richmond on the heels of a 4-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds Saturday night. It was the third-straight win for Charlotte, who has recorded 12 goals over that same span of games. The Independence now boasts the second-highest scoring offense in the USL with a total of 47 goals, while also claiming the third best goal differential in the league at +20.
Charlotte’s attacking unit has shared the wealth, as six different players have tallied 10 or more points this season. Enzo Martinez (9g, 5a) and Brian Brown (8g, 5a) lead the way, followed by Jorge Herrera (7g, 2a), Caleb Calvert (6g, 2a), David Estrada (6g, 1a) and Lewis Hilton (3g, 4a). And goalkeeper John Berner, despite fluctuations in the back line over the last few weeks, has been sharp in net, allowing just six goals in his last nine starts.
But claiming another victory over the Kickers on Wednesday night will be no easy feat, as the club is 8-1-4 at home this season, with their only loss having come back on May 28. Richmond will be looking to rebound at City Stadium after having their 10-match unbeaten streak broken by Louisville City FC on Sept. 10. The 2-0 defeat on Saturday also was the first match in which the Kickers have failed to score a goal since a 2-0 road loss to the Charleston Battery on July 2. Richmond has two players with double digit points this season in Yudai Imura (9g, 3a) and Sunny Jane (4g, 2a), as well as 13 different goal scorers overall.
Wednesday will be the third and final match between the Independence and Kickers this season, unless they should meet again in the playoffs. The first two games took place in Charlotte and ended as victories for the Independence. Charlotte won 3-2 back on April 22 with a stoppage time penalty goal by Herrera, then 1-0 on June 18 with a 30th minute set-piece goal by Calvert.
Following their mid-week match in Richmond, the Independence will return home for another crucial conference clash against the Rochester Rhinos on Saturday, Sept. 17. The rematch with Rochester will serve as the 2016 regular-season home finale for the Independence at Ramblewood Stadium.