Birmingham Legion FC sit in the middle of the USL table with five remaining games in, but the playoff race for the Legion and several other USL teams is still very well alive.
In a game in which the Legion needed to perform well in terms of standings, the squad was able to upset the second-place Indy Eleven 1-0 at home last week.
Thanks to Brian Wright’s fifth goal of the season, a header in the 39th minute, the boys took a 1-0 lead going into halftime.
After the completion of the game, Wright earned his third Man of the Match honor of the year.
Despite losing both Mikey Lopez and Mathieu Laurent to injuries, the defense remained strong throughout the course of the game, putting one of, if not the best, overall defensive performances together on the night.
Matt Vanoekel was also able to add another clean sheet to his season tally. He now has nine on the season, good for fifth in the USL and third in the Eastern Conference.
Despite the fact that Indy has the best defense in the USL based on statistics, the Legion found ways to break through and create chances. Brian Wright found the back of the net in the first half, but the second half was flooded with counter-attacking opportunities, most of which came after Indy’s Drew Conner saw straight red after a dangerous challenge on Wright in the 53rd minute.
Late in the second half, the boys could have added a second goal to seal the deal, but were unable to convert. Prosper Kasim had a total of five shots in the last 15 minutes of the game, all which went wide of the target or were saved by Indy’s goalkeeper Evan Newton.
With the win, the boys remain in 10th in the USL Eastern table, just one point ahead of 11th-place Charleston Battery and two points behind ninth-place Saint Louis FC.
The Legion will return to action on Monday, Sept. 30 as they take on Swope Park Rangers in Kansas City.
In the first matchup between the two squads earlier this year, the Legion and Swope Park played to a scoreless draw at BBVA Field back in April.
With only five total wins for the year, Swope Park currently sits in 18th position, the very bottom of the USL Eastern Conference.
Although they are dead last in the table, they recently upset 11th-place Charleston 3-0 away from home, winning in dominant fashion.
Swope Park, like a variety of similar teams in the USL, has the privilege of being the reserve squad of an MLS team. As a direct affiliate of Sporting Kansas City, the Rangers are able to share swing players and a stadium with the Wizards.
This season, Swope Park has been offensively led by midfielder Felipe Hernandez and forward Wilson Harris, both of whom have scored eight goals this season.
Monday’s contest has a start time set for 6:30 p.m. and can be streamed on ESPN+.
Gunnar Sadowey is the sports editor for the Crimson. He is a senior from Elkhart, IN. Gunnar is currently a journalism and mass communications major with a print concentration and a German minor.