Enzo Martinez scored two and Alex Crognale dunked in the game winner as Legion FC twice came back from a deficit to win 3-2
BIRMINGHAM, AL (April 30, 2023) – After an exhilarating match that saw Legion FC come back from two one-goal deficits, the Three Sparks showed grit and determination to take all three points in front of the fans and earn the top spot in the USL Championship Eastern Conference through eight games. Forward Enzo Martinez scored twice in the second half, and defender Alex Crognale scored the game-winning goal in the third minute of added time.
Hartford scored first in tonight’s five-goal thriller in the 38th minute. After passing interplay in and around the Birmingham box, Prince Saydee found the feet of Jeciel Cedeño to put the visitors up by one.
Legion would go into halftime on a one-goal deficit. At the break, Legion had five shots to Hartford’s ten. Head Coach Tommy Soehn came out of the locker room with a fired-up squad.
“It was probably one of our worst halves ever,” said Soehn. “We had a harsh talk in the locker room about our character, making sure we know who we are. We had an opportunity to get to the top of the table, and understanding what that means. I didn’t quite say it that nicely, if you can imagine, but at least it motivated us to come out in the second half.”
The energy level shifted in favor of the Black & Gold in the second 45. In the 65th minute, Legion found its equalizer through 2022 Team MVP Enzo Martinez. Prosper Kasim fed in a ball off a Chick-fil-A Corner Kick to a wide-open Martinez at the penalty spot, and the Uruguayan instinctively smashed it into the Connecticut side’s goal.
Hartford would take the lead again just two minutes after Legion’s first goal. Through quick, forward passing substitute Kyle Edwards found himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg and put one past him.
“I think what we’ve got to realize is you’re not going to score three goals in a row, you’re going to score one at a time,” said Soehn, when asked about Hartford’s quick strike. “I think we were gambling too much trying to go forward and win the game, which left ourselves open on the counter.”
The scoring was not over after Hartford’s second goal. In a fast-paced counter attack of their own, Spangenberg punted the ball across the field to forward Juan Agudelo. Agudelo found 2019 Team MVP Kasim out wide on the left wing, and the Ghanaian placed a pin-point ball all the way across to the other side of the box right at the feet of an onrushing Martinez who hammered it into the net for Birmingham’s second equalizer.
“We talked about how the tactics really don’t matter if you don’t have the energy and enthusiasm behind it,” said Soehn. “Once we had that, the tactics become important again, and I think it showed, because we were able to break them down.”
Legion were knocking on the door for a late-winner in the last fifteen minutes of play, creating many opportunities but could not find their anwser. Not until the the third minute of injury time, when Martinez whipped in a ball off another Chick-fil-A Corner that found the head of Crognale who dunked it in goal to win the game.
“As happy as we are, we should not have found ourselves in that situation,” said Man of the Match Enzo Martinez on being twice down by a goal. “If we could turn it around at will, then that says something in that moment.”
Legion showcased its character by being able to come back twice and come away with a win. Its moments like those that make a team championship worthy.
“You can’t take any games off,” said Martinez. “You can’t afford to lose games or tie, so that should be our goal, to stay top of the table, because we have the quality and the team to do it.”
|1st Half||2nd Half|
HFD – 38’ – #11 Jeciel Cedeño (assisted by #7 Prince Saydee)
BHM – 65’ – #17 Enzo Martinez (assisted by #10 Prosper Kasim)
HFD – 67’ – #17 Kyle Edwards (assisted by #7 Prince Saydee)
BHM – 76’ – #19 Enzo Martinez (assisted by #10 Prosper Kasim)
BHM – 90+3’ – #21 Alex Crognale (assisted by #19 Enzo Martinez)
BHM – 4-3-3 – #18 Trevor Spangenberg; #3 Phanuel Kavita, #2 Ben Reveno (72’ – #15 Tyler Pasher), #21 Alex Crognale, #16 Gabriel Alves; #6 Anderson Asiedu, #17 Matthew Corcoran (77’ – #5 Mikey Lopez), Enzo Martinez; #7 Diba Nwegbo (45’ – #4 Collin Smith), #9 Juan Agudelo, #10 Prosper Kasim (90+5’ – #13 Jake Rufe)
Birmingham’s next game is on Wednesday, May 3rd on the road at Miami FC. Fans can tune in to watch the match on My68 or on ESPN+ and can follow @bhmlegion on Twitter for live match updates and highlights.
The Black & Gold return to the Magic City and Protective Stadium on Saturday, May 6th to face the Oakland Roots, 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.