Photo courtesy of Charlotte Independence
MATTHEWS, N.C. – The Charlotte Independence knew heading into Saturday’s game that a sellout fan base would be on hand for the grand opening of the Sportsplex at Matthews.
They delivered with one of their more well-rounded results of the season.
With Jorge Herrera tallying the venue’s first goal, Alex Martinez following up with an insurance score in the second half and the defense posting its first clean sheet of 2017 – a 2-0 victory against the Harrisburg City Islanders – the host side gave the crowd everything it hoped for.
“This was a special night,” defender Bilal Duckett told The Charlotte Post. “It’s not many times in a career where you get to open up a brand new stadium in front of a sellout crowd. You could kind of just feel the energy – it felt like it meant something to a lot of people. I’m just really grateful to be a part of it.”
Duckett had been out with a bone spur in his foot, and his return was capped off with a clean sheet.
“It’s always good to get a clean sheet, but it’s better to get three points,” goalkeeper Cody Mizell said. “Clean sheets will come. We’ve struggled with injuries. You’ve seen our back line chance almost week to week, game to game – even multiple games in a week.
“It’s good to get the first clean sheet. It’s good to get the horse off your back.”
The victory also put Charlotte into the upper half of the Eastern Conference, improving to 4-3-4 (16 points) and in eighth place. The Independence hold at least a game in hand against six of the seven teams ahead of them, so the club is in prime position to continue making a climb.
And for the rest of the way, the Independence for the first time has a rock-solid home foundation at Matthews.
“This is the first time where it’s felt like we’ve had a home,” Duckett said. “This feels complete.”