Photo courtesy Charlotte Independence
MATTHEWS, N.C. – The Charlotte Independence got a pair of goals by Enzo Martinez as they pulled away for a 3-0 victory against the Richmond Kickers on Saturday night at the Sportsplex at Matthews. The Independence took the lead in just the third minute as a corner kick from the left deflected through the far post, allowing Jaime Siaj to hammer home a finish from the top of the six-yard area. Charlotte’s Enzo Martinez also tested Kickers goalkeeper Travis Worra from the top of the penalty area, while the Kickers first good chance saw Yudai Imura curl a free kick just wide of the left post just before the half-hour mark. Luiz Fernando went also close as for the Kickers he forced a good save by Independence goalkeeper Cody Mizell in the 37th minute. The Independence almost doubled their lead six minutes later, however, as Callum Ross’ headed finish was cleared off the line by Richmond’s Chris Durkin. After a quiet start to the second, Charlotte eventually found a second as Martinez converted from the penalty spot on the hour-mark after Joel Johnson was brought down just inside the penalty area. Independence defender Dennis Castill almost made it three from another corner kick chance, only for his header to go just wide of the right post, but the Independence wrapped up the win in stoppage time as Martinez added his second of the night to move into a tie for the league-lead with 16 goals.
3’ – CLT – Jaime Siaj
60’ – CLT – Enzo Martinez (penalty)
90+’ – CLT – Enzo Martinez (Lewis Hilton)
Three Things That Matter:
1. Following last week’s collapse, the Independence couldn’t asked for a better start to wash the taste of that defeat out of their mouths than the third-minute goal that Jaime Siaj put home. The goal, which came from a corner kick that wasn’t properly dealt with by the Kickers’ defense, was also a harbinger of things to come, as the Independence threatened to add to their lead from other set pieces. Callum Ross’ header cleared off the line, and an effort by Dennis Castillo that went just wide, were both good examples of the set piece prowess Charlotte will hope to continue going forward.
2. The Kickers were able to rebound from an early concession last week against the Charleston Battery, but were unable to find a response after being placed in the same situation against the Independence as an attack that was active wasn’t able to find its range throughout the contest. Richmond had one big chance to get back into the game in the first half as Luiz Fernando forced a good save from Independence goalkeeper Cody Mizell, but too often was forced to settle for shot from long range that didn’t find the target, leaving last week’s victory as a minor uptick.
3. Enzo Martinez didn’t have a spectacular night, but when you leave a game with a pair of goals you can certainly say you did something right. The 2016 USL Most Valuable Player Finalist has shown an ability to put himself in the right place at the right time throughout the season, and so it proved again in stoppage time as he notched his 16th goal of the season to move into a tie with Reno 1868 FC’s Dane Kelly for the league-lead. The four-horse race for the Golden Boot is afoot.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Callum Ross, Charlotte Independence – Ross set the tempo for the Independence with a good two-way performance, and almost found the net with a good header that was cleared off the line.
Charlotte Independence at Charleston Battery – September 9, 7 p.m. ET, MUSC Health Stadium
Richmond Kickers at Orlando City B – September 7, 7:30 p.m. ET, Orlando City Stadium