Photo courtesy of Chris Cowger / Pittsburgh Riverhounds
PITTSBURGH – The Charlotte Independence earned their fourth consecutive victory and moved into the top three in the Eastern Conference with a 3-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Tuesday at sold-out Highmark Stadium. Enzo Martinez scored in the 40th minute, but the big story was Jorge Herrera’s second-half performance. Herrera converted a 62nd-minute penalty kick and then scored directly off a corner kick 17 minutes later to put the match well out of reach. Chevaughn Walsh scored his second goal in as many games for the Riverhounds in second-half stoppage time, but it was too little, too late for Pittsburgh. The Independence improve to 7-3-4 (25 points) overall and 4-2-2 on the road. Pittsburgh drops to 5-7-4 (19 points) overall and 3-5-1 at home.
40’ – CLT – Enzo Martinez
62’ – CLT – Jorge Herrera (penalty)
79’ – CLT – Jorge Herrera
90’+2 – PGH – Chevaughn Walsh
#PGHvCLT: Full match and Opta box score
Three Things That Mattered:
1. The Independence held the brunt of possession in the opening half – nearly 70 percent – and while the number of chances weren’t necessarily on the high end, they were able to capitalize with an important first-half goal to hold the upper hand heading into halftime. In the 40th minute, Alex Martinez had some space on the left side and crossed in toward his brother Enzo Martinez. Riverhounds right back Shannon Gomez got a touch on the ball, but didn’t do enough to make a significant clearance or breakup as Enzo converged and slotted into the net for his seventh tally of the season and a 1-0 lead heading into the break. The one-goal lead stayed that way until the 62nd minute, when Jorge Herrera drew a foul against Pittsburgh center back Gale Agbossoumonde at the top of the box. Herrera converted the penalty kick with a shot inside the left post for a 2-0 cushion. Herrera then provided the highlight of the match, scoring directly off of a corner kick from the left side, curling the ball into the back of the net for a three-goal cushion in the 79th minute.
2. With Keasel Broome on international duty with Barbados and Trey Mitchell with a shoulder injury, the Riverhounds brought in North Carolina FC goalkeeper Macklin Robinson on loan for Tuesday’s match. Robinson made his presence felt in the 32nd minute when Enzo Martinez struck from approximately 25 yards out. His shot was headed toward the upper left corner and Robinson came up with a huge save to keep Charlotte off the score sheet at that stage of the match. He stuffed Martinez in the 72nd minute, as well, as the Independence’s MVP finalist from a year ago could have put the match well out of reach on multiple occasions.
3. The Riverhounds were able to threaten the net a bit more in the second half, but they could never break through. Pittsburgh’s Corey Hertzog had one of the stronger efforts in the 49th minute, but Independence goalkeeper Cody Mizell made a fabulous save to keep the host side off the score sheet. Mizell stepped up on a couple occasions in the second half and Bilal Duckett had a nice header clearance among the standout second-half efforts from Charlotte’s defense. Chevaughn Walsh was able to break through at the end for the Riverhounds, but overall it was a strong effort from the Charlotte defense.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Jorge Herrera, Charlotte Independence – Herrera tallied twice in the second half, including an impressive corner-kick strike in the 79th minute.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Orlando City B – July 8, 7:30 p.m. ET, Orlando City Stadium
Charlotte Independence vs. Saint Louis FC – July 8, 7 p.m. ET, Sportsplex at Matthews