CHARLOTTE, NC – The Charlotte Independence defeated FC Tucson 2-1 on Sunday night at American Legion Memorial Stadium. #11 Tresor Mbuyu and #2 Koa Santos scored to give the Jacks their third win of the season.
“I think it’s a good confidence boost for us defensively,” stated Charlotte Independence Head Coach, Mike Jeffries. “I think it showed a lot of heart and a lot of character. We bent a lot, they had obviously a lot of the possession but I thought the guys did a great job. We really didn’t concede a lot of great chances. I thought we put up a pretty good wall in front of Adrian, and Adrian kept things very organized, and credit to the guys I thought they performed really well in a difficult spot.”
The Independence broke through in the 18th minute with Mbuyu’s fourth goal of the season. #90 Khori Bennett’s header off a cross from #4 Diego Rocha was saved and deflected to Mbuyu waiting to slot it home tightly inside the near post for the Jacks’ first goal of the match.
“This team has a lot of talented guys,” stated Bennett. “Today I had an assist – possibly two with Tresor’s first goal. What it says is that the goals can come from anyone. Tresor is scoring a lot, and we encourage that, but at any moment anyone can step up and get the job done. So, that’s the type of team we have and that’s what a championship team is about.”
FC Tucson leveled the score with a curling attempt from #22 Tyler Moss, but it did not take long for the Jacks to respond, as the score was only tied for five minutes before the Independence regained the lead.
Santos scored his first professional goal through a blazing shot launched from outside the penalty area to double the tally for the Independence in the 43rd minute.
The Independence proved to be dangerous on set pieces as Bennett and #19 Quinn McNeill both placed convincing attempts on target. Bennett produced a sliding attempt on a free kick for the Jacks while McNeill bounced a header off the crossbar from the fourth corner kick of the night for the Independence.
The Jacks carried the lead into halftime: Charlotte Independence 2 – FC Tucson 1.
“I think, obviously, a fortress for us. We want teams to come here and know it’s going to be a tough game against us, but I think the biggest thing we have here is confidence to play out on a big field and confidence to press teams,” stated Charlotte Independence Captain, #17 Clay Dimick. “Tonight, we showed the fight we have, we don’t want to drop points at home and we showed that tonight.”
#7 Miguel Ibarra had the first promising chance of the second half for the Independence with a jumping header on a cross from Santos. Santos’ outing was finished soon thereafter when he received his second yellow card of the match in the 65th minute. The Jacks possessed the ball well with 10 players for the final 25 minutes to secure the 2-1 win over FC Tucson.
“Yeah, obviously this was a hard physical game for us, so it’s going to be a quick turnaround against a team that had off for a week,” stated Jeffries. “I think we just have to try and get guys ready. We’ve obviously played Northern Colorado pretty recently so we have a pretty good sense of their ability and capability. So, I think we do what we can to prepare, but the biggest thing is getting the guys physically ready.”
NEXT ON THE SCHEDULE: The Jacks are back home at American Legion Memorial Stadium on Wednesday, May 18 against Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC at 7:30 PM as part of a doubleheader after the Charlotte Independence USL W League match which kicks off at 4:30 PM. One ticket is valid for both matches. Visit charlotteindependence.com to secure your seats.