Agudelo penalty kick is saved, Kavita taken out early, Lapa scores, and Legion rally in the second half to take one point against Miami for the second time this season
Miami, FL (September 3, 2022) Miami scored first at FIU stadium, but Birmingham bounced back in the second half to secure a draw after being on the front-foot for most of the match with an expected goal ratio of 1.63.
The first half opened with pressure on both sides of the pitch. Birmingham led the attacking front and earned a penalty kick in the 15th minute, but forward Juan Agudelo’s shot from the spot was saved by Miami’s Jake McGuir.
The Three Sparks were on the front foot from then on out, until Captain Phanuel Kavita went down after taking an elbow to the eye, resulting in him having to get off the pitch and Birmingham temporarily being down to ten men.
It was in those few minutes with one less man when Miami scored the opener. A corner kick saw the ball punched out to Miami’s Lamar Walker who smashed the ball through the defense and into the back of the net.
With Captain Kavita out, the Three Sparks had to make positional adjustments during the match with midfielder Zachary Herivaux dropping back to play as a center back to cover for the squad. The Haitian put up a battle in the back, displaying solid defensive work along with the other members who adjusted to keep Miami’s lead at one.
“I think we had to adjust a little bit with tons of thing,” said Legion FC Head Coach Tommy Soehn. “You don’t always expect Phanuel to go out, so we had to make multiple changes, which is disruptive to a team that’s found a groove. Enzo had to play three positions, Mikey played three positions, Rufe played three positions. We had to keep adjusting for the circumstances, and that made it difficult.”
Legion FC equalized in the 69th minute after brilliant build-up play saw the ball travel from midfielder Anderson Asiedu, deflect in the box, and reach the Brazilian maestro Bruno Lapa who smashed it into the side netting. Lapa, who has been in terrific form as of late and was recognized on the USL’s Team of the Week for Week 25, netted his fifth goal of the season to set himself as the fourth most prolific goal scorer for the Magic City.
“We sorted out some details at halftime and came back pushing the game for a goal,” said Lapa. “We knew if we were more patient in our attacks and look for combinations, we were going to have chances, and we were able to find one. We tried to find another one to come out with three points but, unluckily, we did not,” said Lapa.
Birmingham would dominate the second half with 12 shots to Miami’s five but could not find the back of the net again to secure three points. The draw against Miami sees the Three Sparks go to third place in the USL Championship standings with three points clear of fifth place Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
“I felt disappointed that we only got one, especially when we had the penalty and the opportunities to get up early, which I felt was important to open them up,” said Soehn. “But then we didn’t, and they went up a goal. It’s still important that we were resilient to keep pushing the game right up until the end. I credit the guys for their effort.”
Goalkeeper Matt VanOekel came in big in the 86th minute, stopping a one-on-one challenge against Miami’s Romeo Parkes to keep the game level.
“Matt’s been solid all year,” said Soehn. “You come to expect it. He saves what he should, he throws in a couple miracles, and he puts together a really good season doing that.”
“The result wasn’t what we were looking for, but Miami is a very good team and for us to come from behind and get a point on the road can’t be seen as a negative result,” said Lapa.
|1st Half||2nd Half|
MIA – 25’ – #13 Lamar Walker
BHM – 69’ – #8 Bruno Lapa
BHM – 4-3-3 – #1 Matt VanOekel; #24 Jonny Dean, #21 Alex Crognale, #3 Phanuel Kavita © (35’ — #13 Jake Rufe), #5 Mikey Lopez; #20 Zach Herivaux (76’ – #10 Prosper Kasim), #6 Anderson Asiedu, #8 Bruno Lapa (85′ #7 Ryan James); #19 Enzo Martinez, #11 Marlon Santos (76’ – #47 Mataeo Bunbury), #99 Juan Agudelo (71’ – #29 Sadik Balarabe)
MIA — 4-2-3-1 — #1 Jake McGuir; #12 Aedan Stanley, #5 Paco Craig, #4 Callum, #96 Chapman-Page, #86 Mark Segbers; #21 Boluwatife Akinyode, #80 Devon Williams; #17 Joaquín Rivas, #10 Florian Valot, #13 Lamar Walker; #9 Kyle Murphy
Legion FC heads to Indianapolis next Saturday to battle Indy Eleven on September 10 at 6:00pm CT. Fans can tune in to watch the match on My68 or ESPN+ and can follow @bhmlegion on twitter for live match updates.
The Three Sparks return to Protective Stadium on Wednesday, September 14, at 7:00PM for the only home game of the month to take on the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in a pivotal contest in the Eastern Conference playoff race, and fans can grab tickets today!
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