MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis 901 FC rebounded after a dismal first half to tie the match and force a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls II at AutoZone Park on Saturday.
Memphis created the first goal-scoring chance of the match and minutes later, conceded the opening goal.
Brandon Allen managed to win possession in the Red Bulls’ box and unleashed a shot from close range, only to see the ball bounce off two Red Bulls defenders and into the goalkeeper’s arms.
Seconds before the ten-minute mark, the Red Bulls took a one-goal lead.
Midfielder Chris Lema created space on the edge of the box and whipped in a curling cross to the back post. Defender Jordan Scarlett met the cross at the back-post with a glancing header to score his first goal of the season.
New York opted to defend and see out their one-goal advantage.
Memphis opted to implement a long-ball style of play where midfielders and defenders lofted balls up the field for Allen and Elliot Collier to give chase.
After 45 minutes, the 901 FC attempted 54 long-passes. The tactics were not working, as Memphis merely completed 52% of their passes at the half.
New York took advantage of a misplaced pass seconds before the halftime whistle to double their lead.
Jared Stroud sent a shot off the post after a scrum in front of goal, and Vincent Bezecourt scored off the rebound.
A seemingly different squad wearing 901 FC jerseys turned the match around in the second half.
Forward Lagos Kunga replaced Morgan Hackworth at the half, and he made an immediate impact.
In the 48th minute, the shifty winger skated into the box past two Red Bulls defenders and slotted a pass into a dangerous area. Allen beat his marker to the ball and blasted a shot into the near-side corner of the net.
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The goal marked Allen’s first goal for Memphis.
The fans erupted, and the 901 FC players calmly celebrated, as they knew more work was required in order to force a draw or take the lead.
Over the next 15 minutes, Memphis created three goal-scoring chances. The Red Bulls looked nervous at the back, as Memphis pursued the tying goal.
Allen nearly completed a brace 20 minutes before the final whistle.
Cameron Lindley laid off a pass to Allen just inside the box, and defender Kyle Duncan narrowly sent Allen’s shot wide. Allen would have scored if not for Duncan’s quick reflex decision.
Memphis finally broke down the Red Bulls’ back-line to tie the match in the 87th minute.
In dramatic fashion, Wes Charpie made his way to the end-line and roped in a timed cross to the back post. Allen was in ideal position and sent a close-range volley past NYRB II’s goalkeeper.
The match ended deadlocked at 2-2, and Memphis now has 15 total points.
— By WREG’s Caleb Hilliard