Despite entering Friday’s game on a four-game league winless streak (two losses, two draws) extending back almost a month, Charlotte Independence coach Mike Jeffries said his soccer team had not been playing all that badly lately.
So a 2-0 United Soccer League victory over FC Montreal on Friday night at Ramblewood Soccer Complex came as a welcome reversal of fortune.
“Nice to get a good result, nice to get a shutout,” Independence coach Mike Jeffries said, “It’s the start of the second half of the season, and we have an opportunity to get some points at home. These are opportunities we have to take advantage of.”
Daniel Jackson scored in the first half, and Alex Martinez posted his first goal of the season in the second half for Charlotte (5-6-5, 20 points), which started the game eight points out of the sixth and last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
FC Montreal (4-12-2, 14 points) entered the game as one of the hottest teams in the United Soccer League, winners of three straight. But the Independence dominated play in the first half, outshooting Montreal 12-3 and forcing goalkeeper David Paulmin to make seven saves just to keep his team in the game.
Charlotte ended the game with a 20-6 shot advantage.
The Independence broke through with the only goal of the first half in the 30th minute. Daniel Jackson scored it, rolling a shot from 14 yards out just inside the far post after taking a pass from Enzo Martinez and making a run from the far sideline.
“The mentality that we came out with was great and we pushed the game from the beginning,” Jeffries said.
Martinez, in the midst of a frustrating season in which he’s one yellow card caution away from a suspension for accumulation of cards, wrapped up the victory with a score in the 86th minute.
The former N.C. State and Rock Hill Northwestern High standout scored on a nice 1-2 combination with teammate Carlos Alvarez in the 18-yard box.
“It’s great to get the monkey off my back,” Martinez said. “And it was a great win for the team.”
Charlotte’s next two games are at Ramblewood at 7 p.m. Aug. 1 against the Rochester Rhinos and at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 5 against the New York Red Bulls II squad.