The Charlotte Independence defeated the Richmond Kickers 3-2 on Friday night during a back-and-forth battle on a wet and cloudy night at Ramblewood Stadium.
The score was tied at the half with a goal apiece. The final 45 minutes were full of drama as the game came down to an extra time penalty kick, where Jorge Herrera found redemption from his previous misfortune during the home opener.
The victory marked Charlotte’s second come from behind win this season and third-straight victory at home.
The slick conditions played a key role in the early minutes as both teams struggled to possess the ball. The Independence got the action started in the 16th minute as a cross entered the box from the right side finding Caleb Calvert, who attempted the volley, but the shot went well over the cross bar.
Not too longer after, Richmond responded with an open shot from distance by Sunny Jane, who skipped it past the diving Cody Mizell. The goal gave Richmond an early 1-0 lead in the 20th minute.
It was the 42nd minute when Richmond took a short corner kick. An attacking player turned his Independence defender and looked to play a cross back across the face of goal, however, Mizell stretched out and gathered the ball denying a shot by the Richmond offense. Mizell then sent the ball down field where Brian Brown did well to keep possession. Brown took the ball towards the end line and slotted a ball back across the box finding Calvert wide open on the back post for the easy tap in. The half would end tied at 1-1.
“Richmond is very difficult,” explained head Coach Mike Jeffries. “Their attacking players are really quick and creative ... and their movement is very good. They are very hard to play against so I thought our guys managed very well.”
The Independence came out very active in the second half. In the 58th minute, the Richmond offense found space in the box. A shot was taken and it slipped through the legs of Mizell, but Patrick Slogicwas in great position to clear the ball off the goal line which earned him the Wells Fargo Save of the Game.
In the 77th minute, Enzo Martinez found some space in the midfield. He took just a couple touches before striking a rocket past substitute Kickers goalkeeper Sawyer Gaffney, who replaced starter Ryan Taylor in the 76th minute because of injury. The Independence took the lead 2-1.
Richmond did not take long to respond. A poor clear by the Independence defense led to a game-tying goal by Matthew Delicate. Time was running out for the Independence when, in stoppage time, Jun Marques Davidson drew a foul in the penalty box. Herrera stepped up to take the kick and placed it in the lower right corner of the goal, scoring the game winner and leading the Independence to victory.
“I was thinking about the last one that I took that I missed,” said Herrera on his thoughts before the kick. “I wanted to be sure this time that I was going to score. I felt confident. I have been in this situation plenty of times, so this time I put it away.”
After the game, Jeffries spoke highly about his players and their performance. “It just says that the guys really believe they can create, they believe they can score, they believe coming into the game they are going to win.”
The team will look to continue their momentum as they travel to New York Red Bulls II next weekend.
NYRBII (3-0-2) also is on a roll, having beaten Wilmington 1-0 on Friday night for their fourth-consecutive clean sheet. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:00pm ET on Sunday, May 1.