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Charlotte Independence wins on Herrera’s penalty kick

The last time Charlotte Independence midfielder Jorge Herrera had a penalty-kick opportunity, his miss led to another Charlotte loss.

No such problems Saturday, as Herrera’s penalty-kick goal in the second half lifted the Independence to a 2-1 USL Pro Series victory over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Winthrop University’s Eagle Field.

Charlotte (3-4-3) got a much-needed three points in the Eastern Conference standings with its win over the Riverhounds (4-4-4), the Independence’s first league win since a 3-0 victory over the Richmond Kickers on May 8.

“It was very important we win this one,” Herrera said. “We have a little stretch here at home, and we have to take advantage of that. It was important we start that stretch off with a win.”

Herrera – who missed a penalty kick in Charlotte’s 2-1 loss to Richmond on June 7 – also had an assist on Carlos Alvarez’ goal early in the second half, which tied the score 1-1.

Pittsburgh, which leads the league in goals scored (26), went up 1-0 near the end of the first half when Lebo Moloto scored off Fejiro Okiomah’s assist in extra time.

However, the Independence tied the score in the 52nd minute when Alvarez caught Riverhounds goalkeeper Matt Lampson out of position, and put a shot past him from 18 yards out.

The winning goal came 14 minutes later, set up when Pittsburgh defender Danny Earls was red-carded for a hand ball in the goal. Herrera’s third goal of the season came when he put the penalty kick past Lampson.

“We needed this win,” Charlotte coach Mike Jeffries said. “This is our home game, and this was a team that was above us in the standings, so we felt it was important to set a tone and win.

“We kind of lost of rhythm and gave up the goal in stoppage time, which can be demoralizing. But the guys came back and did well.”

Worth mentioning

With starting goalkeeper John Berner out for at least another month with a fractured cheekbone, the Independence have gone to “goalkeeping by committee.” On Friday, Charlotte worked a deal with the NASL’s Carolina RailHawks to get keeper Hunter Gilstrap on loan, joining Lisch, on loan from the MLS’s Houston Dynamo. Lisch started Saturday’s game, and made a key save in the second half.

What’s next?

The Independence travel to Cambridge, Mass., for a fourth-round U.S. Open Cup match against Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution at 7:30 p.m. June 17. The match will be played at Harvard University’s Soldiers Field Soccer Stadium.

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