CHARLOTTE, NC – The Charlotte Independence fell 2-1 to Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC in a competitive match played Wednesday night at American Legion Memorial Stadium.
“It’s always hard when you lose the last one and that’s the taste you walk away with,” stated Charlotte Independence Head Coach, Mike Jeffries. “I think tonight was really frustrating on our end to give away the set piece goal really before the game even had rhythm. I thought we, again, put ourselves in a hole and battled back. I feel like the team has great character and so forth to be able to do that and just a soft second goal off a counter attack. Again, I thought we fought to try to get it. I thought we had good chances, obviously we didn’t get any breaks but it was a good battle.”
Only a minute after kickoff, Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC opened the scoring through a goal by #10 Irvin Parra. The Independence quickly shifted to the attack with multiple solid chances in the first ten minutes. #5 Shalom Dutey released a powerful header off a corner, forcing the Hailstorm keeper to make a save.
It was only a matter of time before USL League One leading scorer #11 Tresor Mbuyu leveled the score in the 19th minute with his fifth goal of the season. From the left wing, #4 Diego Rocha played a through ball to #7 Miguel Ibarra at the top of the penalty area who sent it to Mbuyu streaming towards goal to slot it past the keeper and into the back of the net.
The Jacks continued to pressure the Northern Colorado defense, producing four corner kicks in the first half. It was a team effort as Mbuyu, #90 Khori Bennett and #6 Omar Ciss all recorded shots in search of a breakthrough goal.
The teams entered halftime tied: Charlotte Independence 1 – Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC 1
New signee, Grayson Barber, made his Independence debut as a substitute in the second half. The forward on loan from Sporting Kansas City helped spark the offense serving in crosses from the left wing.
“The team is really nice. It’s a really good team, and it’s easy to come in and be a part of them,” stated Barber. “Being able to play tonight was good but it just wasn’t the result. I feel like the more practice I get – with only being here for a couple days – it will all come together and the results will start to come, so I’m not worried about that.”
Northern Colorado took the lead again in the 70th minute with a goal by #29 Trevor Amann.
The Jacks kept fighting for another goal with multiple incredibly close shots on goal. The Hailstorm cleared a chance from Bennett off the line to prevent a late equalizer, and #21 Giuseppe Barone had a free kick saved in stoppage time.
“I think we all know that we have to get a result now to stay atop the table,” stated Charlotte Independence Captain, #17 Clay Dimick. “There’s really no excuses going into it. We know what we have to do to get ready physically and get a result on the road.”
When asked about how his team will approach the upcoming 5 game road trip, Jeffries explained, “We obviously showed some fatigue tonight, a little bit, and I think it’s a tough trip but like I said, it’s a resilient group. They’ll fight through it and battle. We’ll do our best to be organized, and we’ll find a group of 11 that has energy and can play.”
NEXT ON THE SCHEDULE: The Jacks begin a month-long period of away matches beginning with a trip to Wisconsin to face Forward Madison FC on Saturday, May 21 at 8 PM. Fans can live stream the match for free on bahakelsports.com or watch over-the-air on antenna TV’s WCCB Channel 18.5.