After finally bouncing back from yielding an early goal, a weary Charlotte Independence team couldn’t close the deal Saturday night.
Kingsley Bryce scored on a rebound in the final minute to give St. Louis FC a 2-1 United Soccer League victory over the Independence (4-5-4, 16 points) in front of 1,328 fans at Ramblewood Soccer Complex, snapping a three-game unbeaten streak for Charlotte.
“We just weren’t sharp enough,” Independence coach Mike Jeffries said. “We weren’t very good on final passes and on through balls. And we got caught in some situations that we shouldn’t have been in on defense.”
Forward Daniel Jackson scored the only goal for Charlotte – which lost at home for the first time since its season opener on March 27 – in the 67th minute after the Independence had trailed for most of the game.
And Jeffries said his team might have hit a wall after ending its run to the round of 16 in the U.S. Open Cup with a loss on Tuesday to the Chicago Fire.
“It’s not an excuse, but we were clearly fatigued, and we struggled at the end of the game,” Jeffries said.
They didn’t get off to a good start either. The Independence outshot St. Louis 7-2 in the first half, but the visitors emerged from the first 45 minutes with a 1-0 lead.
Parker Maher scored in the sixth minute, taking a feed from Patrick Doody and rolling a shot from about 15 yards past Charlotte goalkeeper Matt Lampson, making his Independence debut.
“We were terrible at the start of the game, and we had to chase the game after their goal. That took a toll on us,” Jeffries said.
But the Independence were briefly energized by Jackson’s first goal of the season. Set up by passes at the top of the 18-yard box by Alex Martinez and Jorge Herrera, Jackson took a feed from Martinez and punched the ball over the left shoulder of St. Louis goalkeeper Alec Kann, a former Furman standout who played for the Charlotte Eagles last season.
The Independence had several good chances in the next 10 minutes, including a header by Herrera that tipped just over the crossbar.
But the visitors (4-5-6, 18 points) got the victory when Bryan Gaul’s blast in the six-yard box glanced off Lampson and Bryce volleyed it in from the right side.
Notes: Lampson joined the Independence on Friday on loan from the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer. … Independence forward Caleb Calvert received a red card ejection in the final minute of the match. …The Independence play their next two games on the road, at Louisville on July 11 and at Rochester on July 18. The next home game is at 7 p.m. July 25 against FC Montreal at the Ramblewood Soccer Complex.