Birmingham played with ten men for the entire second half, and lost 1-4 in the tie
BIRMINGHAM, AL (May 6, 2023) – Legion FC dropped a frustrating match on Saturday night at Protective Stadium, 4-1. After Legion Captain Phanuel Kavita was sent off in the 45+3′, Oakland converted on a penalty and had a manpower advantage against the Three Sparks. Legion would answer back off a set piece in the 48th minute of play to equalize, but Oakland would finish off the night with three more goals late in the game.
Oakland opened the scoring in first half injury time. Legion Captain Phanuel Kavita received a second yellow card for a called handball in the box and Oakland’s Dariusz Formella converted from the penalty spot. The ball appeared to hit Kavita in the stomach, much to the uproar of the home fans.
“He wouldn’t talk to anybody,” said Head Coach Tommy Soehn when asked about the referee decisions on the penalty and red card call. “I feel bad for the fans, and I really feel bad for our players. The reffing tonight was probably one of the worst performances I’ve seen in my career. Just poor decisions, and to not even have the ability to speak to ‘em — I just hope he takes a good look in the mirror and evaluates his performance, because we all have to. It shouldn’t be allowed. It was terrible.”
Legion were reduced to ten men from the start of the second half. Just three minutes into play Birmingham would strike back with an equalizer — with Enzo Martinez converting on a set piece served in by number 15 Tyler Pasher. The goal marked Martinez’s fifth goal of the year. His fifth in four games to make him the top scorer for the Three Sparks this season.
“You’re short-handed, you know that,” said Soehn on the impact of the equalizing goal. “We got some fresh legs in, and I think the goal sparked us. But we’re also pushing to get the win and we get caught in counters. And then some bad calls really hurt.”
Oakland was awarded another penalty in the 64th minute. Gabriel Alves lightly pulled on an oncoming Oakland forward and the referee pointed to the spot. Legion goalkeeper Matt VanOekel originally saved the penalty, but Lindo Mfeka scored off the rebound.
“There’s a lot of emotion after, not just one, but two really bad mistakes,” said Soehn. “I think our guys were really ready for it today, and it’s difficult when referees’ decisions influence the game like that. It’s disappointing, and I’m disappointed for our guys.”
Running on fumes and with ten men, Birmingham found it difficult to keep its shape. Oakland would score again in the 71st and 88th minute of the match, on a breakaway and then a deflection, to make the final score 1-4 in favor of the Californians.
“We have to,” said Soehn on how Birmingham can bounce back after two disappointing results. “We got a big Open Cup game this Wednesday and hopefully we can determine that result, not someone else. That’s all we can count on.”
|1st Half||2nd Half|
OAK – 45+3’ – #9 Dariusz Formella
BHM – 48′ – #17 Enzo Martinez (assisted by #15 Tyler Pasher)
OAK – 64’ – #10 Lindo Mfeka
OAK – 71’ – #11 Trayvone Reid
OAK – 88’ – #17 Johnny Ridriguez (assisted by #7 Nepo Matsoso)
BHM – 4-3-3 – #1 Matt VanOekel; #3 Phanuel Kavita (c), #2 Ben Reveno, #33 Moses Mensah (45’ – #21 Alex Crognale), #4 Collin Smith (78’ – #13 Jake Rufe); #6 Anderson Asiedu (90’ – #17 Matthew Corcoran), #5 Mikey Lopez (45’ – #15 Tyler Pasher), #16 Gabriel Alves; #16 Enzo Martinez, #9 Juan Agudelo (71’ – #11 Neco Brett), #10 Prosper Kasim
Legion FC returns to Protective Stadium this Wednesday, May 10 to face its arch rivals Memphis 901 FC in the U.S. Open Cup Round of 32. The match will kick off at 7:00pm CT at Protective Stadium. Gates will open at 6:00pm, and tickets can be purchased HERE!
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.