Enzo Martinez and Marlon Santos get on the scoresheet for the Three Sparks
MONTCLAIR, NJ (May 27, 2022) – Birmingham Legion FC earned a 2-1 victory on the road to New York Red Bulls II, a result that sees the Three Sparks break a three-match winless streak. Midfielder Enzo Martinez found the back of the net in the first half, while forward Marlon Santos scored the game-winner toward the end of the second half.
The first half saw Legion FC open the scoring on the night – forward Prosper Kasim played Martinez through on goal, where the latter would go on to bury it past Red Bulls II goalkeeper AJ Marcucci with a finish into the bottom left corner of the goal. The goal was Martinez’s second for the Three Sparks, with his first coming against Loudoun United back in April.
Birmingham would not be without difficulties during the match, though, as New York forward Jordan Adebayo-Smith leveled things for his side in the 25’ minute, beating Legion goalkeeper Matt VanOekel with a shot into the bottom right corner of the net.
Forward Juan Agudelo would come close to restoring the Legion FC lead on several occasions, even finding the back of the net prior to end of the first half before it was pulled back for offsides. Fortunately for Head Coach Tom Soehn and his side, second half substitute Santos would provide the goal needed with just nine minutes left to secure all three points on the road.
Despite boasting a Expected Goal ratio of 2.12 to New York’s .28 (per StatsPerform), though, the result was left til late for the visitors.
“There’s always frustrations in the fact that we have to learn how to put teams away,” said Soehn. “Do I expect that to come right from the get-go? No. But we need to grow into a team that, one, puts their chances away, and two, puts teams away. We’re not there yet, so we need to keep working on it until it becomes part of who we are.”
While Red Bulls II got on the scoresheet in the contest, the Birmingham defense did well to limit the hosts’ opportunities in front of goal. Defender Jake Rufe, who earned his first start in USL Championship play this season, played a key role in doing so, making four clearances and winning two tackles.
“Games like tonight build trust in each other and in our ability,” said Rufe. “I think we showed some quality moving the ball but also that we can do the gritty defensive work too.”
|1st Half||2nd Half|
NY – 4-2-2-2 – #40 AJ Marcucci; #60 Curtis Ofori, #80 Juan Castillo, #90 Daniel De Leon (Subbed out in the 64’ for #55 Lamine Conte, #88 O’Vonte Mullings; #66 Michael Knapp (Subbed out in the 46’ for #29 Sam Williams), #65 Steven Sserwadda; #95 Adam Najem (Subbed out in the 57’ for #77 Jonathan Filipe, #36 Jeremy Rafanello; #28 Zach Ryan (Subbed out in the 57’ for #54 Illia Tyrkus), #30 Jordan Adebayo-Smith (Subbed out in the 82’ for #97 Jack Casey)
BHM – 4-3-3 – #1 Matt VanOekel; #24 Jonny Dean, #21 Alex Crognale, #3 Phanuel Kavita ©, #13 Jake Rufe ; #5 Mikey Lopez, #20 Zach Herivaux, #19 Enzo Martinez; #7 Ryan James (Subbed out in the 57’ by #11 Marlon Santos), #10 Prosper Kasim (Subbed out in the 88’ by #17 Matthew Corcoran); #99 Juan Agudelo (Subbed out in the 67’ by #9 Edi Horvat)
Legion FC will travel to Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix, Arizona, to take on Phoenix Rising FC for the first time. The meeting with Phoenix will be on Saturday, June 4, at 9:30PM CT.
The next home game is back at Protective Stadium on Wednesday, June 8, at 7:00pm against bitter rival Memphis 901 FC! ‘Everybody Wins on Wednesday’ drink deals continue, so get your tickets HERE and contact the Legion FC Ticket Office with any questions.