The Charlotte Independence hosted an international soccer match at the Matthews Sportsplex recently. The match was between the Jacks and Santos Laguna, the current reigning 2017 Champions from Mexico.
It was an interesting and very entertaining match for 87 minutes. Especially, during the first half and for 97% of the contest. The score was only 1-0 until the final 3 minutes of the game. It appeared the Jacks intensity was not the same defensively for the final minutes and they gave up 2 quick goals to be defeated 3-0.
Coach Mike Jeffries stated, “The guys enjoyed tonight, it’s always good to challenge yourself against top clubs in the world so I think it was a great experience for us.”
During the first half the Independence played extremely well against a world class team. They held their own, recorded two shots on goal while also keeping the Mexican Champions off the scoreboard with some excellent defensive play and solid goal keeping by Andrew Dykstra.
However, in the 61st minute Santos Luguna attacker Osvaldo Martinez was able to get by an Independence defender and shot a rocket just past the extended arms of the Jacks diving goalkeeper to break the deadlock.
At 67:00 minutes the coach replaced Dykstra with the back-up goalkeeper who made one nice save. However, the defense broke down with only 3 minutes remaining to give up two game ending goals and eliminating any opportunity for a draw.
The entire Independence roster was able to participate in the exhibition and it was a good opportunity for many of the young players to compete against quality competition. Also, for the coaches to evaluate players at different positions.
In midweek there was a good crowd on hand for a school night. The Independence have a crucial USL game coming up against the Richmond Kickers on Saturday night which has huge playoff implications for both clubs.