CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In a game that saw 9 yellow cards, including two for Enzo Martinez, the Charlotte Independence defeated Louisville City FC 3-1 thanks in part to the team’s second ever hat trick. The victory at home brings the Jacks to 12 games unbeaten and Charlotte to the top of the USL's Eastern Conference.
“It was a good day for the Charlotte group, for sure,” said Independence Head Coach Mike Jeffries.
A two-goal first half from the Enzo Martinez saw the Jacks in a comfortable position to start the second half. The game’s scrappiness continued in the second half following an early Louisville goal by Mark-Anthony Kaye. Before the hat trick could be completed, four more players found themselves with yellow cards (Henry Kalungi, Speedy Williams, Alex Martinez, Paco Craig). In the 80th minute of play, Enzo Martinez found the net for the third time, but his celebration earned him another yellow card, and he was sent off. A final Louisville player, Mark-Anthony Kaye, was shown a yellow in stoppage time, and Charlotte was able to hold onto a victory.
“My first professional hat trick,” said Enzo Martinez. “It's a good sign when you don't play your best and are still able to find the result.”
Saturday night's game marked several historical events for the Independence. The team’s second hat trick propelled them into first place of the Eastern Conference for the first time in franchise history, and they performed in front of the second sell-out home crowd since moving to the new Sportsplex at Matthews -- a venue which has yet to see a Charlotte loss.
“It's a group that takes a lot of pride in how we defend and our work rate defensively,” said Coach Jeffries of the team. “That certainly showed up.”