Charlotte (NC) — The Charlotte Independence and Pittsburgh Riverhounds battled to a 2-2 draw at the Sportsplex at Matthews on Saturday night. In the penultimate home game of the regular-season, the Independence forward Eamon Zayed grabbed a late lead, only for the Riverhounds to heartbreakingly equalize in the closing moments.
"We have no other option but to keep moving forward," said Independence defender Bilal Duckett. "We're playing good soccer, we've caught a couple of bad breaks and put ourselves in a really difficult spot but we still have everything to play for. Maybe we need some help now, but hey, that's what prayer's for."
The Independence fell behind early as Riverhounds forward Romeo Parkes beat the defense for his fifth goal of the season. But the home side would respond quickly as Alex Martinez discovered an open Jorge Herrera inside the 18-yard box. The combination was both Martinez's team-leading 5th assist of the season and Herrera's team-leading 12th goal of the season.
"We'll go back at the end of the year and look at the games he started and played and we'll know we're a better team when he's on the field," said Independence Head Coach Mike Jeffries. "He's a guy that makes big plays and he did so again tonight with his goal and even some of his play in the second half to set up chances and get guys into good spots."
In the final act of the game, the Independence scored a critical goal as midfielder Cordell Cato lofted in a cross to Jorge Herrera who headed it on to Eamon Zayed for the go-ahead score in the 86th minute. However, the goal was canceled out by a Ben Zemanski stoppage-time equalizer.
"Obviously that one feels like a loss," said Jeffries. "There's a part that says we just can't shake the demons but we have to push through it. Obviously, when you get the lead and there's five minutes left you want to protect it, but I feel like we almost got away from the things we wanted to do and went into a shell and got punished for it."
The Independence carry a five-game unbeaten run and will go again this Wednesday as the team visits Penn FC at FNB Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 PM and the official watch party will be hosted at Jack's House Soccer Bar and Retail store.
5': PGH – Romeo Parkes (Neco Brett )
19': CLT – Jorge Herrera (Alex Martinez)
44': PGH – Romeo Parkes (YC)
62': CLT – Joel Johnson (YC)
77': CLT - Je-Vaughn Watson (YC)
CLT - 7
PGH - 9
CLT - 0
PGH - 1
CLT - 55.6%
PGH - 44.4%