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11 Things – USL Week 13

If the opening 10 weeks of the USL regular season set the stage, the middle third – as games begin to arrive quickly one after the other – can be where the key victories are won to earn a place high up the conference standings. With 11 games over the past three days to wrap up Week 13, and another 19 over the next seven as we hurtle straight into Week 14, two teams in particular did themselves major favors near the top of their respective standings on Saturday night.

1. SPURRED ON: San Antonio’s recent scoring slump had put even more pressure on a stellar defensive unit to maintain the club’s undefeated start to the season. On Saturday night, the club’s shutout streak may have come to an end, but the life shown by the SAFC attack will have made that statistic a footnote to a 3-1 victory against Tulsa Roughnecks FC in front of 7,376 fans at Toyota Field. Kris Tyrpak’s pair of goals, including maybe the most creative finish of the weekend to open the scoring, led the way to a much-needed victory as the club’s defense finally relented short of Rio Grande Valley’s monumental record. Back atop the Western Conference – if only for a couple of days – will have everyone within the club breathing a little easier.

2. STRIKE LIKE A BEE: Louisville City FC paid tribute to the city’s most famous son at Saturday night’s game as part of the I Am Ali Festival currently running through July 15 at the Muhammed Ali Center, with scarves that included a play on Ali’s famous phrase: Pass like a Butterfly, Strike like a Bee. Louisville’s attack hasn’t needed much inspiration of late, and in a 3-0 victory against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds it provided some of the thrill of a classic heavyweight bout. Cameron Lancaster’s first goals since April 15 saw the English forward get in on the recent glut of goals that have come Louisville’s way in the past four games, and with 8,741 fans on hand at Slugger Field to see a second successive three-goal victory, the City juggernaut looks as unstoppable as Ali in his prime.

3. TALL TIMBER: The one game everyone should now have circled on their calendars is Louisville’s visit to MUSC Health Stadium on July 8 to take on the Charleston Battery, which very likely will pit the top two sides in the Eastern Conference against one another in a rematch from last season’s USL Cup Playoffs. The Battery remained undefeated all-time against FC Cincinnati on Saturday as they emerged with a 2-2 draw in front of 21,074 fans at Nippert Stadium, with Forrest Lasso coming to the fore again. The 6-foot-5 center back played a limited role in his first two seasons in Charleston, but with Shawn Ferguson electing to step away from the game this offseason, Lasso has more than filled in alongside Taylor Mueller. Once a late-game option to either defend a lead, or find an equalizer, Lasso’s ability to find the net from set pieces is also paying off handsomely. His fifth goal of the season almost gave the Battery another win before Andrew Wiedeman’s outstanding late strike leveled things for FCC, but a point on the road will certainly work for Head Coach Mike Anhaeuser’s men.

4. ALL TIED UP: Cincinnati, for its part, said after the game that Wiedeman’s equalizer with 10 minutes to go made the draw with the Battery feel like a win. A couple of days later, though, it’s possible the reality that the side’s fourth draw on home turf in the league this season is putting pressure on FCC in the standings. Cincinnati has reached the midway point of its home schedule at just 3-1-4, and as a result is currently seventh in the Eastern Conference standings, within reach of the likes of Ottawa Fury FC and Saint Louis FC, both of whom sit below eighth place, but have games in hand to make up. With Saint Louis visiting Nippert Stadium this Saturday night, the pressure is going to be firmly on FCC to produce.

5. MOVING ON UP: In their travels around the region to open their home slate this season, things hadn’t been entirely ideal for the Charlotte Independence. Saturday night’s start of a new era at the Sportsplex at Matthews boded well for the future, however, as a sellout crowd saw the Independence take a solid 2-0 victory against the Harrisburg City Islanders behind a goal and assist by Jorge Herrera. That it was the veteran Colombian that scored the first goal in the venue’s history was certainly appropriate; it’s hard to think of anyone who has meant more to soccer in Charlotte than Herrera in recent history. With games to make up on the group ahead, getting established on the right foot in the club’s new home was an ideal start.

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By Brandon Moree, 06/19/17, 9:15AM EDT

Did you miss the festivities of the Grand Opening of the Sportsplex at Matthews? We've got a recap of the whole night

Matthews (N.C.) — The grand opening of the Charlotte Independence's brand new home was well worth wait as the Jacks christened the Sportsplex at Matthews with a 2-0 win against the Harrisburg City Islanders on Saturday night.

In the Independence's three-year history, they have played their home games at Ramblewood Soccer Complex, UNC Charlotte and Winthrop, but now they have a place to truly call home.

"This feels complete," said Independence defender and captain Bilal Duckett. "Playing at a college campus, every time you play at a college campus you know that's theirs, that's not really ours. This feels like ours. Today is special because they have the big inaugural opening, but there are already people out, the locals are all over the stadium.

"You feel like it's your place, you come in and you are already comfortable."

Saturday night was equal parts soccer match and party as the Sportsplex at Matthews was lined with food trucks and vendors and live music blasted just outside the gates. A Charlotte Independence regular-season record 2,468 fans took in the night.

"It feels great out there," said Jorge Herrera, who scored the stadium's inaugural goal and assisted on a second. "It felt great tonight that we could call the place home and I'm so glad, and I know on behalf of my team, we're so glad that a lot of people responded to our call. They know that they have a team that they can call on and support and they can be a part of it."

The Jacks will return to the Sportsplex at Matthews on Saturday, July 1st as they will host the Rochester Rhinos and again one week later on Saturday, July 8th to host Saint Louis FC. They'll be looking to keep their record unbeaten inside the friendly confines of the Sportsplex at Matthews.

"This is fantastic and the guys are so excited and it just feels so positive — the whole atmosphere," said Independence Head Coach Mike Jeffries. "The Sportsplex, the stadium, the field everything is a step up for us. It will take a while to settle in of course, we have a few kinks to work out on our end but it was fantastic."


MATTHEWS, N.C. – Jorge Herrera scored the first goal during the grand opening of the Independence’s permanent home venue, the Sportsplex at Matthews, on Saturday as the club enjoyed a 2-0 victory against the Harrisburg City Islanders. This is the first of 12 regular-season home matches at Matthews after playing at Winthrop University’s Eagle Field. Alex Martinez provided a second tally in the second half. Charlotte improves to 4-3-4 (16 points) overall and 2-1-2 at home (1-0-0 at Matthews). Harrisburg drops to 2-6-4 (10 points) overall and 1-6-1 on the road. Scoring: 13’ – CLT – Jorge Herrera. 62’ – CLT – Alex Martinez (Jorge Herrera).

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On Sunday night, in the final home game at Winthrop University, the Independence and Rowdies battled to a 2-2 draw.

ROCK HILL, S.C. — The Charlotte Independence battled back from a one-goal halftime deficit to draw with the Tampa Bay Rowdies 2-2 in the team’s final home game at Winthrop University. 
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Hip Hip! Jorge! Herrera takes USL Team of the Week Honors for his one goal, one assist performance against Orlando City B.



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