Charlotte Independence win 2-1 remain in playoff contention

Midfield action at Sportsplex. (Ed Berti)

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The Charlotte Independence earned a huge three points with a big win over the Richmond Kickers 2-1 Saturday night in the Sportsplex at Matthews.  This victory keeps their playoff hopes alive and they now have 35 points which is keeping the Jacks in the hunt.

Field action between Jacks and Kickers. (Ed Berti)

The Independence scored five minutes into the match when forward Eamon Zayed would smash a shot past the Richmond goalkeeper for the 1-0 lead for his fifth goal of the year.  Zayed received the feed pass from Alex Martinez who was awarded his fourth assist of the season.  This is the second consecutive win for the Independence who need to finish strong to qualify for a playoff spot.

Zayed said, “I’m happy all around, with the goal, the start and the three points.” “It was my sister’s birthday today so I told her before the game I was going to try and score a goal, so that’s one for my sister.”

Alex Martinez in action for Jacks. (Ed Berti)

The Independence scored their second goal in the in the 58th minute when Jake Areman stole the ball right from the Richmond goalkeepers feet with nice footwork, then chipped the ball into the net for the score.  This gave the Independence a comfortable two goal cushion.  “Scoring the game winning goal is a great feeling,” said Areman.

This goal turned out to be the difference and the game winner.  At the 72nd minute Raul Gonzales would beat Brandon Miller to a loose ball and poke it into the net.  Miller would redeem himself for the miscue in the 93rd minute, when he would make the save of the game from inside the box on a rocket fired by Austin Yearwood to deny the potential goal for a draw.

Independence shot on goal. (Ed Berti)

In the post game interview, head coach Mike Jeffries stated, “We know we don’t have any room for error, especially on games at home.”  “There’s no real option for us not to get the job done.  The guys knew that and they put a tremendous amount of energy into tonight.”

Independence Eamon Zayed taking a header toward the net. (Ed Berti)

The Independence will travel to Charleston next Saturday to play the third place Charleston Battery.  The Jacks will try to get even in the series with a win and gain three more important points in the standings.  Their next home game will be on September 22nd, when the New York Red Bulls II come into town for a 7:00 pm start in the Sportsplex at Matthews.

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Ed Berti
Ed is retired and remains active as a freelance writer, local journalist and independent contractor. He is engaged in print and electronic media writing stories covering business, sports, hometown news and veteran's affairs including articles of interest to various media outlets. Ed is a graduate of Wagner College where he earned an MBA and holds a BBA from Pace University.
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