Photo courtesy Charlotte Independence
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Charlotte independence got a pair of goals by David Estrada as they took a 4-0 victory against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Saturday night at Ramblewood Stadium. The Riverhounds created the better scoring chances early, as both Corey Hertzog and Zak Boggs forced saves from Charlotte goalkeeper John Berner, but the Independence carved out a good chance for Brian Brown that was smothered by Pittsburgh’s Zack Steffen in the 34th minute. Three minute later, Charlotte took the lead as Joel Johnson put in a good cross for Brown to head home from close range. Steffen came up big moments later to deny Alex Martinez a second for Charlotte, but Enzo Martinez played provider moments later as he set up Estrada with a cross from the right to make it 2-0 just before the halftime break. Estrada added a second after Jun Marques Davidson’s surge and shot into the penalty area was saved by Steffan, only for the ball to loop high in the air and Estrada to loop a header into the top-left corner past the retreating cover. The Riverhounds played positively late, and were denied by a big save by Berner and subsequent goal-line clearance late on as they looks for a consolation, but it was the Independence that grabbed a late finish as Jorge Herrera struck in stoppage time to round out the scoring.
37’ – CLT – Brian Brown (Joel Johnson)
45’ – CLT – David Estrada (Enzo Martinez)
54’ – CLT – David Estrada
90+' – CLT – Jorge Herrera (Aly Hassan)
Three Things That Matter:
1. The Independence took a little while to get going, but once they did they showed why they’ve been one of the hotter teams in the USL over the final third of the season, going 7-1-2 over its past 10 games to move into possession, at least for the moment, of third in the Eastern Conference. Charlotte’s attacking forays down the right side, where both of its first-half goals originated from, put consistent pressure on the Riverhounds’ defense, and two excellent crosses by Joel Johnson and Enzo Martinez gave Brian Brown and David Estrada good chances they finish clinically.
2. The Riverhounds had the better of the opening 20 minutes, but defensive breakdowns saw the side fall to an Independence side that is running high on confidence, and was decisive in its finishing when the chances came. Pittsburgh heads home to face FC Cincinnati next on Wednesday night looking to find something it can rally around as it heads to the offseason.
3. The Independence’s run of form has the side poised ahead of a big three-game stretch to close the regular season. With a visit to the Richmond Kickers on Wednesday night followed by a home clash with the Rochester Rhinos and a visit to Louisville City FC on the final Saturday of the season, the Independence will have a chance to lock down a home quarterfinal, and will definitely be battle tested as they get ready for their first postseason in club history.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
David Estrada, Charlotte Independence – Estrada notched a pair of headed goals to lead the Independence to another important win in their pursuit of a home quarterfinal in the 2016 USL Playoffs.
Charlotte Independence at Richmond Kickers – Sept. 14, 7 p.m. ET, City Stadium
Pittsburgh Riverhounds vs. FC Cincinnati – Sept. 14, 7 p.m. ET, Highmark Stadium