Jacks Score 3 In Home Opener Battle With Central Valley Fuego FC
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Charlotte Independence 2022 Home Opener presented by Chick-Fil-A vs. Central Valley Fuego FC ended in a 3-3 tie tonight at American Legion Memorial Stadium. The Jacks took the lead three separate times during the club’s USL League One debut. The team returns home in just over a week to face former Independence teammate Irvin Parra and the NC Colorado Hailstorm FC. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 PM.
“It was a crazy game with so many emotions. You go up three times I think so, you think you’ve won the game a couple times but there were positives to take away,” stated Charlotte Independence Captain, #17 Clay Dimick. “We scored three goals, and there’s obviously stuff to work on. We never want to concede three no matter what game it is, especially on a set piece, especially one in the last minute. So, we’ll go back and look to see what we can improve on to close out that game and win.”
It was a steady start to the match. Both teams tested the waters early and started to find their footing on the pitch. A couple back to back corner kicks was the only threat until the 31st minute. The Jacks drew a foul at the top of the box and #11 Tresor Mbuyu stepped up to take the kick. The shot deflected off a Fuego FC defender, froze the goalkeeper, and dropped into the back of the net.
Fuego FC answered in the 39th minute after some combination play in the box led to a strike at the top of the 18-yard-box by #6 Ozzie Ramos. His goal tied the score 1-1.
Just two minutes later the Jacks found themselves once again in the Fuego final third. A cross came in from the right side of the pitch. #7 Miguel Ibarra settled and slotted a ball through the back line. Mbuyu turned his defender and placed it nicely into the lower right corner. The Jacks took the lead at halftime, 2-1.
Both teams came out strong in the second half finding opportunities and making big plays on both ends of the pitch. Fuego was the first to strike in the 81st minute. The goal came from their first corner kick of the night finding the foot #23 Renato Bustamante. He tied the score 2-2.
The Independence answered again in the 89th minute, also from a corner kick. The service dropped into the box and a header caused chaos for the Fuego defense. After a couple deflections, #5 Shalom Dutey found the ball at his feet and buried it into the back of the net.
“I think we bounced back from our last game really well, it was a long game and for us to come out and put on the performance we did in this game, I think we won’t have a problem doing the same thing,” stated Dutey. “This team is young, it’s energetic so we definitely have the players and the legs for that.”
Five minutes of stoppage time was added to the end of the match. With just seconds remaining, Independence goalkeeper #1 Keegan Meyer punched a service up and away. Fuego’s #20 Villyan Bijev took the volley first time and floated it over both Meyer and the Independence defender standing on the goal line.
“I think we’ve been very good in transition, and we’ve been able to create opportunities,” explained Charlotte Independence Head Coach, Mike Jeffries. “I think that’s something that we’ve worked on that the guys have picked up on. I think we can continue to push and be a little more creative and incisive in the final third and we’ll continue to do that, but by in large, we’ve had a lot of guys that are clever and can manage to make a play in the final third.”
Final score, Charlotte Independence 3 – Central Valley Fuego FC 3. NEXT ON THE SCHEDULE: The Charlotte Independence return home to American Legion Memorial Stadium next Saturday, April 16. The team plays host to NC Colorado Hailstorm FC and kickoff is set for 7:00 PM. Visit our website for tickets.