Matthews (N.C) - The Charlotte Independence downed the Richmond Kickers 3-0 on Saturday night to notch their 13th win of 2017. Rookie forward Jaime Siaj got the Independence off to a quick start in the 2nd minute when he found the back of the net on a Lewis Hilton corner kick. In the second half, 2016 USL First-Team selection and MVP Finalist Enzo Martinez converted a 60th minute penalty kick and stoppage-time goal for his 16th of the season. Marking his 5th multi-goal game, Enzo Martinez now sits tied for the USL lead for most goals scored this season.
“Not only is he the guy that is MVP for the team, and I would argue for the league as well at this point," said Independence Head Coach Mike Jeffries. "He's the guy that is also the heart of the team. He's so competitive every day, and he brings such passion to the game.”
On the opposite end of the field, goalkeeper Cody Mizell recorded his 4th shutout of the season. In the three-games season-series with Richmond, the Independence defense did not allow a single goal.
Going into the game, Coach Jeffries faced a Richmond team on a two-game win steak playing with little to lose. Not helping the matter, Jeffries was unable to call upon some of his normal starters due to injury and unavailability. Nevertheless, the Jacks are now just one win from tying last year's franchise record and currently sit tied atop the Eastern Conference standing with Louisville City FC.
"I think it was a little tougher for us shape-wise, especially not having guys in certain spots," said Jeffries. "I thought it was a little tougher for us. That being said, it's huge for us to find a way to get a result and kind of grind one out."
The Independence will next take on Souther Derby rivals Charleston Battery at MUSC Health Stadium next Saturday night. In the season opener this April, the Battery hung two second half goals on the Independence. However, the Eastern Conference's fourth place team has only one win the past 10 games.
2’ CLT: Jaime Siaj (Lewis Hilton)
60’ CLT: Enzo Martinez
+90’ CLT: Enzo Martinez
Post Game Quotes:
Midfielder Lewis Hilton on Coach Jeffries' prep for this game-
“We always talk about being on the front foot in games and taking the opposition to the opposing team, and that's what we did today. We were able to get the first goal, and at times it wasn't as great as a performance. We were sloppy at times, but the most important thing is getting the three points at this stage in the season, and that's what we did. 3-0 at home is a big positive; it puts pressure on the teams around us, and that's exactly what we need after these past two games with not getting to three points.”
Forward Enzo Martinez on a thin group tonight-
"I think it's a massive credit to all the guys who came in and stepped up. For me, this is special because being down so many important guys, I said it earlier on in the year, but we felt like we had a group that anyone could get the job done. Today, that showed. Everyone did their job and did what they're supposed to."
Charlotte Independence at Charleston Battery – Sept. 9, 7 p.m. ET, MUSC Health Stadium