Neco Brett scored a brace and Birmingham recorded its second shutout in a row as the Three Sparks defend its spot on top of the table
St. Petersburg, FL (Apr. 1, 2023) – Legion FC took home all three points at Al Lang Stadium thanks to a solid defensive performance and a brace by forward Neco Brett. This 2-0 win marks Birmingham’s third win in a row and its second clean sheet in a row as the Three Sparks extend their lead at the top of the Eastern Conference with ten points total — four points ahead of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in second place.
The boys from Birmingham looked like a first place team against the Rowdies and tonight’s win marks its first win over Tampa since August of 2019. Its defense was spectacular and kept the Rowdies from making one shot on target for the entirety of the match compared to Legion’s seven on target.
“We executed so well, our game plan,” said Head Coach Tommy Soehn. “That’s just credit to the guys — they watch and then they get to the field and they execute.”
Two clean sheets in a row on the road is a massive accomplishment for the Three Sparks. No other team in the USLC has managed to do that this season. Defensively, Birmingham has improved tremendously since its first two matches.
“I think it’s taking stride,” said Soehn on how the team has improved. “We continue to grow as a team because we have more reps together. The understanding gets there and our defensive shape. Credit to the group that we’re not just talking about how to get better, we’re actually getting better, and I think there’s more to come.”
Legion FC took the lead right before the half-time whistle. Forward Juan Agudelo found no. 10 Prosper Kasim out wide, who delivered a beautiful, curling service to an open Brett standing in front of goal. His header found the bottom-right corner and gave the Three Sparks the lead in the fifth minute of first-half extra time.
Tampa Bay put Birmingham under more pressure in the second half, leading possession by 73%, but the Black & Gold maintained its shape and made it difficult for Tampa to penetrate its final third.
Legion would go on to solidify its lead in the 83rd minute. Goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg, who came on in the 32nd minute after Matt VanOekel took a knock, sent a long ball out wide to midfielder Matthew Corcoran, who raced in behind Tampa’s defense. Corcoran found an open Brett in the middle of the box, and the Jamaican confidently redirected the ball into the right side of the net.
“I saw the space and just took off,” said 17 year-old Corcoran. “I looked up and saw Neco on tons of space so I had to get him the ball and Neco did what he does best … score!”
Corcoran played brilliantly last week in his first start for the club and his performance earned him a spot on USLC’s Team of the Week. The young star’s second start was equally as impressive and professional.
“It is always great to play,” said Corcoran. “I am lucky I have a great staff and players to help guide me. It helps a lot knowing I have guys around that believe and push me to keep going.”
Brett’s brace brings his goal tally up to 29 goals for Birmingham (Legion FC record) and 75 goals in the USLC — making him the fifth top-scorer in USLC history.
“I think everybody has a purpose, and obviously one of the reasons why Neco is here is because he can score goals,” said Soehn. “He’s also a great teammate, and he fits the ideas we have. Having guys like Juan [Agudelo] with hold-up play, Enzo [Martinez] will compress like crazy, when [Tyler] Pasher is on he can get in behind, and Neco is that guy in the box that if you give him a look he’s gonna finish.”
Thanks to Legion’s win, local fans can get a Buy-One-Get-One-Free discount at Birmingham Papa John’s locations. Just enter code ‘LEGIONWINS’ tomorrow, April 2nd. Online orders only. When Legion wins, you win pizza.
Additionally, a clean sheet for the Three Sparks means doughnuts are waiting for them back home. Join the Legion squad in celebrating its shutout by helping yourself to a healthy dose of Birmingham’s Hero Doughnuts.
|1st Half||2nd Half|
BHM – 45+5′ – #11 Neco Brett (assisted by #10 Prosper Kasim)
BHM – 83′ – #11 Neco Brett (assisted by #17 Matthew Corcoran)
BHM – 4-2-3-1 – #1 Matt VanOekel (32′ #18 Trevor Spangenberg); #4 Collin Smith, #21 Alex Crognale, #3 Phanuel Kavita ©, #16 Gabriel Alves; #6 Anderson Asiedu, #17 Matthew Corcoran (84′ #33 Moses Mensah); #19 Enzo Martinez, #9 Juan Agudelo, #10 Prosper Kasim (67′ #23 Grayson Dupont); 11 Neco Brett (84′ #7 Diba Nwegbo)
The squad’s next home match is set for Easter Sunday, April 9th, at 4:30pm CT. Gates open at 3:30pm and all fans are invited to join us for an Easter egg hunt in the stadium! Email email@example.com for more information or to purchase tickets.
For all club news and updates fans are encouraged to follow @bhmlegion on social media and keep an eye on bhmlegion.com and the Legion FC app. Download the Legion FC app today on Apple or Android, and sync our 2023 schedule to your calendar HERE.