Team records its 11th clean sheet of the year, Juan Agudelo nets his fourth to knock San Diego off a five-match win streak
BIRMINGHAM, AL (August 13, 2022) The Birmingham Legion put up a stellar 1-0 performance at Protective Stadium to knock the San Diego Loyal off its five-game win streak and bring Legion to 4th place in the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference. After terrific form as of late, this shutout is the 4th Legion win in a row and makes it three games without conceding a goal.
The first 20 minutes of play was a stalemate, with both sides fighting for a first goal in back-and-forth football. Birmingham opened the scoring up in the 20th minute after Juan Agudelo slammed in the Legion’s first ChickFilA corner kick goal of the year. Forward Prosper Kasim sent in a ball to number 99 Juan Agudelo, who rose above three defenders and headed the ball across the goal to find the bottom-left corner and give B’ham a 1-0 lead early in the first half. Agudelo goal marks his fourth of the year, and Kasim’s assist brings his tally up to five.
“It felt good, especially since we haven’t scored a goal on a corner kick all season, and set-pieces can lead to points in this league, and that’s what happened today,” said Forward Juan Agudelo. “I think we can be dangerous. If we analyze our small positional errors then we can be really dangerous and go far in this league.”
Not much happened for the remainder of the first half. Birmingham led in chances with eight shots to San Diego’s four and three corner kicks to their zero.
The second half of play was an intense defensive battle with the Legion trying to get a second and San Diego trying to equalize. Forward Marlon Santos had a great chance to score in the 65th minute. Kasim put Santos on with a terrific, weighted pass to the right side of Loyal’s goal, but the Brazilian’s rocket-of-a-shot hit the woodwork.
San Diego is the highest scoring team in the USLC with 53 goals, but their offense was not enough to overwhelm Birmingham’s solid backline. Defenders Jonny Dean, Mikey Lopez, Alex Crognale, and captain Phanuel Kavita reduced San Diego’s attack to only two shots on target for the entire match. Goalkeeper Matt VanOekel was there to keep out those two shots and get himself his 11th clean sheet of the season. MVO now leads the USL in clean sheets by two.
“[San Diego’s] a good team,” said Head Coach Tommy Soehn. “They lead the league in scoring and we were able to shut ‘em down. We had plenty of chances to put ’em away today, but yet we’re still confident enough that if we can get a goal, the confidence to hold anybody off from scoring is huge. That’s why it is important as the season progresses.
“I’ve said that from the beginning that we’ve kept [the defense] together, and I think that’s what we relied on the most. The attacks continue to grow. Today was a bit frustrating because we had a really good chance to put ’em away. We kept them around and then we had to make a couple big plays at the end. But, there’s a lot of character that comes out of those moments too.”
With eight goals in its last three without conceding one, the Legion are in terrific form to take on Detroit City on Wednesday, August 17th in its battle for a top-three finish.
“Everybody looks at the table and they know where we sit, and we know who’s around us, so they all become big games,” said Soehn. “We’re aware that these next two are big, and we need to treat them exactly like we did today and, and make sure we come out with the right mentality and a really good game plan. Today I thought our pressure was really good. Our game plan was good. Would’ve made it easier on ourselves had we taken our chances from those good presses, but all we need is one.”
|1st Half||2nd Half|
BHM – 20’ – #99 Juan Agudelo (assisted by #10 Prosper Kasim)
BHM – 4-3-3 – #1 Matt VanOekel; #24 Jonny Dean, #21 Alex Crognale, #3 Phanuel Kavita ©, #5 Mikey Lopez; #20 Zach Herivaux, #19 Enzo Martinez, #8 Bruno Lapa (68’ – #6 Anderson Asiedu); #10 Prosper Kasim (68’ – #7 Ryan James), #99 Juan Agudelo (86’ – #13 Jake Rufe), #11 Marlon Santos (77’ – #29 Sadik Balarabe)
SD – 4-5-1 — #25 Jorge Ruiz-Ojeda; #5 Grant Stoneman, #4 Jack Metcalf, #13 Camden Riley, #32 Kyle Adams; #17 Collin Martin, #7 Jack Blake, #20 Nick Moon, #10 Alejandro Guido ©, #30 Andrew Carleton; #9 Kyle Vassell
The Three Sparks return to Protective Stadium this Wednesday, August 17, at 7:00PM to take on Detroit City FC in a big game with regards to the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference! Fans can grab tickets today!
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