Photo courtesy Charlotte Independence
CHARLOTTE, NC. – The Charlotte Independence took a 4-1 victory against Ottawa Fury FC on Saturday night at the Sportsplex at Matthews as Cordell Cato scored twice in his debut for the Independence to lead the hosts to victory. While Fury FC's press earned it the bulk of the early possession, the Independence battled back to seize the majority of scoring opportunities in the first 45 minutes. The match saw a scary moment in the form of a head-to-head collision that saw Greg Jordan and Kevin Oliveira each shed some blood, with the former forced to sub out due to his injuries. The breakthrough moment for the Independence came in the 41st minute, as Donnie Smith's corner kick was re-directed at close range into the back of the net by Cato to give the hosts a 1-0 lead heading into the break. Early into the second half, Cato would again find himself on the score sheet, finishing off a breakaway opportunity after a quick one-two with Joel Johnson ended up back at his feet to double the Independence's lead. The Fury would waste no time in battling back, however, with Sito Seoane putting a left-footed shot from just of outside the box past Andrew Dykstra on his first touch of the game to cut the deficit in half. The Independence would pull back away shortly after, as Caleb Calvert took a shove to the back on a Charlotte corner from Sergio Manesio and the referee pointed to the spot. Jorge Herrera would step up and convert the penalty to extend the Independence's lead to 3-1 with 10 minutes to play. Minutes later, the Independence would remove any doubt. After a rapid breakaway, Herrera's shot would be deflected by the Fury's Kyle Porter for an 83rd minute own-goal. Mercifully, that would be it and the Independence would settle for a comfortable 4-1 home-opening victory.
41’ – CLT – Cordell Cato (Donnie Smith)
58' – CLT – Cordell Cato (Joel Johnson)
64' – OTT – Sito Seoane (Michael Salazar)
80' – CLT – Jorge Herrera
83' – CLT – Kyle Porter (OG)
Three Things That Matter:
1. The Independence were off and running in their first 45 minutes of the season. Cordell Cato looked consistently dangerous, finally breaking through with a small deflection on a corner. He doubled his luck with a coast-to-coast run early in the second half to give the Independence their game-winner. Given the team's home-opening struggles in recent years, the early start gave the Independence a running start that they would push home throughout the rest of the match.
2. The Fury started strong, with their press causing early issues for the Independence defense. They dominated possession early in the match, but were able to put together very little on the attacking end, ultimately leaving the window open for the Independence to earn the opening strike. While the final score will surely disappoint, the Fury will take a small solace from Seoane's first-touch goal after coming off the bench.
3. The Independence couldn't have drawn up a better start to the season. A home-opening victory bolsters the team heading into week two, another home contest against Toronto FC II, who gave the New York Red Bulls 2 a hard time earlier in the day. A week off for the Fury will help them get rid of the taste of this result before their match against Toronto FC II on March 31.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Cordell Cato, Charlotte Independence – Cato's opening strike gave the Independence the impetus needed to push for more, which he'd also provide on his long run and finish in the second half.
Charlotte Independence vs. Toronto FC II – March 24, 7 p.m. ET, Sportsplex at Matthews
Ottawa Fury FC at Toronto FC II – March 31, 7:30 p.m. ET, BMO Field