Another heartbreaker as 901 FC goes 2-2 against Birmingham

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A certain ugly theme continues to rear its head when the Memphis 901 FC play at home. The theme is misfortune.

Memphis drew 2-2 with the Birmingham Legion after the referee mistakenly gifted the the opposition a penalty in stoppage time.

The 901 FC were the better team across nearly every statistical category on Saturday afternoon. Birmingham struggled to maintain possession on both sides of the pitch and the Memphis midfield merits the credit.

Dan Metzger and Cameron Lindley nicked away at the Legion’s midfield for nearly 90 minutes. Due to Metzger’s and Lindley’s stifling play, Birmingham rarely enjoyed periods of meaningful possession.

The 901 FC’s attack looked dangerous from the initial whistle.

Newcomer, Jochen Graf received his second start of the season and had three goal scoring chances. He also created a few goal scoring opportunities for his teammates.

Graf’s first impact of the match came at the 10-minute mark. The veteran won possession in the midfield and proceeded to make a 15-yard solo run into the box and forced the Birmingham goalkeeper to make a diving save.

Memphis became inspired by Graf’s early tenacity and moments later Duane Muckette nearly opened the scoring. Fullback Wes Charpie made a run down the right flank and played a cross into the box where Muckette was unmarked, but he scuffed his shot wide.

Graf created another chance in the 25th minute. The forward dribbled to the edge of the box, played a pass to Rashawn Daly who found Lindley open. Lindley quickly lofted a pass across the box and the cross was nearly tucked away by Metzger.

Memphis controlled the match for most of the first half. They had 60 percent possession and attempted 28 more passes than Birmingham. The fans could taste a first half goal and at the 40-minute mark their wish was granted.

The 901 FC won a corner and Birmingham was able to clear the initial opportunity, but Lindley maintained possession. The midfielder gathered the clearance, made one move past a defender and rifled his shot into the top left corner.

The team gleefully walked to the locker room up 1-0 at the half, but the match was far from over.

The first 25 minutes of the second half were slow and then the Legion started to improve. Memphis seemed content to see out the 1-0 result and Birmingham were starting to play with urgency.

Elliot Collier came into the match as a substitute and nearly created the second goal of the match in the 70th minute. The lanky forward nicked the ball off a Birmingham midfielder, moved down the left and connected with Graf’s overlapping run. Graf received the pass in front of goal but failed to make solid contact and his shot went high.

Memphis’ inability to finish chances came back to bite them towards the end of the match. Birmingham looked dangerous with about 10 minutes left in the match and forced Jeff Caldwell to make a few saves. The Legion finally got on the scoreboard through a 25-yard shot from Daniel Johnson.

Memphis came storming back just over a minute later and stunned the Birmingham defense. Adam Najem made a great solo run down the right flank and slid on the endline to keep the ball in play. He stood up whilst maintaining possession and fed Muckette with a weighted pass and Muckette finished to pull the 901 FC ahead 2-1.

The Bluff City Mafia were elated, and their singing grew louder as the final whistle loomed. Birmingham received a lifeline two minutes into stoppage time through a penalty call.

Charpie slid into a foul on the edge of the box and the head official indicated that he committed the foul inside the box. However, the replay clearly showed Charpie committing the foul almost a foot outside of the penalty area. The official already made the call and there is no instant replay in the USL Championship, so Chandler Hoffman proceeded to convert the penalty kick and tie the match a 2-2.

Another heartbreaking loss for the 901 FC and their fans. On the bright side, Memphis has a chance to obtain a win in their next match against a bottom-of-the-table Hartford Athletic team.

— Coverage by Caleb Hilliard

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