MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The road woes continue to plague head coach Tim Mulqueen and Memphis 901 FC, this time on a muggy Saturday night in Charlotte.
Newly acquired forward Brandon Allen received the nod from Mulqueen to start the match alongside Elliot Collier. The striking tandem showed signs of life and forced the Independence’s back line out of position on several occasions.
Their chemistry will develop in due time, but they could not find a rhythm against the Charlotte Independence. Both teams went back-and-forth through the first half.
Charlotte controlled the first 10 minutes. Momentum shifted, and Memphis took over the match until around the 25-minute mark.
Early on in the match, it was clear a single goal would most likely win the match.
Forward Lagos Kunga created the first chance of the match 15 minutes after kickoff. He beat a Charlotte defender into the box and connected with a shot, but the attempt deflected into the goalkeeper’s arms.
The 901 FC’s best chance of the match came 10 minutes before the half. Adam Najem made a run into the near-side of the box and centered Cameron Lindely’s cross with a downward header. Collier was unmarked in the center of the box and let fly, but Charlotte’s Brandon Miller kept the match level with an acrobatic save.
After the first 45 minutes of play, Memphis had 37% possession and six shots with two on goal.
Charlotte dictated play for most of the first half, amassing 132 more passes than the 901 FC, but failed to create any shots on target.
The 901 FC, as they usually do, came out of the half with a sense of urgency.
After a Memphis corner two minutes into the second half, the ball was recycled around to Josh Morton. The defender threaded a pass into the middle of Charlotte’s box, and Kunga gave chase. He took one touch and toe-poked the ball inches wide right of the post. Charlotte goalkeeper Miller pointed to the sky following Kunga’s miss in relief as he was caught off his line.
Duane Muckette came into the match for Kunga 55 minutes in. For the last month, Muckette has been on international duty with Trinidad and Tobago. He allowed Memphis to press higher up field in hopes of forcing the Independence to make a mistake at the back.
The high press worked for the next 20 minutes, but Charlotte found a way through the Memphis back line.
Independence captain Enzo Martinez made a run down the near sideline all the way to the end line. Defender Abdi Mohamed marked Martinez, but he failed to close out the midfielder.
Martinez took advantage of the space and drove in a grounded cross. Jorge Herrera easily tucked in Martinez’s cross into the center of the net.
The goal seemingly deflated the 901 FC, and the team never recovered. The match could have ended 3-0 if not for Scott Levene’s two saves in the final minutes.
With the loss at Charlotte, Memphis remains 16th in the Eastern Conference standings with 11 points.
The 901 FC are back in action against the Hartford Athletic on July 6 at AutoZone Park. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
— By WREG’s Caleb Hilliard