Juan Agudelo and Enzo Martinez both scored their first goal of the season during Saturday’s team win
Irvine, CA (Apr. 22, 2023) – After an intense battle of football with a squad missing many of the Birmingham Legion starters, the boys stepped up and earned themselves three points on the road – boosting themselves into second place in the USLC Eastern Conference Standings. Coming back from a one goal deficit, the Black & Gold showed character; every man on the pitch did their part, and the win tonight boosts the Legion back into form.
Orange County scored the first of tonight’s three-goal game, opening the book up in the 30th minute. It was a great team goal that saw Orange County retain possession in Legion’s box until finding an open Emil Nielsen.
The Boys in Red would respond just minutes later. In the 33rd minute, Legion’s first chance after going down by one, Legion forward Juan Agudelo dribbled the ball through Orange defenders and sent the ball wide into the far post with a professional finish. Agudelo’s goal, who leads the Birmingham squad in chances created (10), was his first of the season.
“We went right back after them,” said Head Coach Tommy Soehn on the quick-response goal. “I thought [Orange County] were quite organized as well, so they weren’t easy to break down. We knew it was going to be a close match tonight because I think both teams defended quite well. But anytime you get a response after a goal, it’s important.”
The match remained back-and-forth and deadlocked, without either side able to capitalize on a chance. Not until the 60th minute, when right back 19-year-old Collin Smith drove into the final third, broke down the opposition’s defense, and delivered a pin-point ball through the legs of an Orange County defender into the path of 2022 Legion MVP Enzo Martinez to slot it home. Martinez’s goal marks his 60th career goal in the USLC, and his first of the 2023 campaign.
“To be able to do it as a team is massive,” said goal-scorer Martinez. “Today every single player stepped up and got the job done. Those types of wins are always fun but are even bigger for the team morale. To see young guys and veteran guys play really well is awesome to watch.”
Legion FC battled it out and held onto the lead for the remainder of the 90 minutes, and in the last minute of added time, goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg made a heroic save that saved Birmingham’s win. With cat-like reflexes, the 2019 Legion veteran dropped to the floor to stop a fast-paced shot to the bottom corner. The game-winning save, along with two other massive saves throughout the match, earned him the fan-voted Legion FC Man of the Match.
“I’ve known Trevor for a long time, and I’ve never had any reservations about putting him in,” said Soehn. “I know what he does on a daily basis in training every week, and he can make saves like that regularly. It’s amazing how fast he gets down for those things. But honestly, throughout the game, I feel like there were probably ten of those [defensive moments] where someone blocked a shot or someone cleared it with a head or it was just a total team effort, making sure that they were going to finish off the game with a W. And as a coach, that’s probably all you could ever ask for from a group.”
Tonight’s win was an important one that put Legion FC in the right direction after two disappointing back-to-back losses. Furthermore, it was the second time Legion have come back and won a game from a losing position — more than any other USLC team this season.
“After the week we had from Phoenix to Loudoun, it wasn’t a great week in all respects,” said Soehn. “Probably I had a lot to do with that by not being there. So this week we talked a lot about just getting back to normal and being who we are, organized and disciplined and competitive. And I think we ticked all those boxes. So it was just more of who we are. The last week, we saw signs of a team that isn’t us, and there was a lot of stuff going on that maybe factored into that. But I’m really proud of the guys to be able to change the mentality back to who I think we are.”
|1st Half||2nd Half|
OC – 30’ – #17 Emil Nielsen (assisted by #23 Ryan Doghman)
BHM – 33’ – #9 Juan Agudelo (assisted by #3 Phanuel Kavita)
BHM – 60’ – #19 Enzo Martinez (assisted by #4 Collin Smith)
BHM – 4-2-3-1 – #18 Trevor Spangenberg; #4 Collin Smith, #21 Alex Crognale, #3 Phanuel Kavita ©, #16 Gabriel Alves; #6 Anderson Asiedu, #17 Matthew Corcoran (82′ #2 Ben Reveno); #19 Enzo Martinez, #10 Prosper Kasim (90+2′ #23 Grayson Dupont), #7 Diba Nwegbo (88′ #33 Moses Mensah); #9 Juan Agudelo
The Three Sparks return to Protective Stadium on Sunday, April 30th to face the Hartford Athletic, and fans can grab tickets today at bhmlegion.com/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.