Memphis 901 FC complete comeback win over Hartford Athletic
Memphis 901 FC has seen all sides of the spectrum the past two weeks in AutoZone Park regarding teams in the USL Championship. They’ve played the best of the best in Tampa Bay, a Monterey team fighting for a playoff spot and Hartford Athletic who have the fewest points in the league.
Hartford, however, did not start the match looking like basement dwellers and might have caught the Beale Street Boys off guard. They maintained a high pace whenever they had possession, using their speed to get behind the Memphis back line. This fiery start resulted in a goal in the third minute of play, but was called off due to offside.
Memphis responded well with Nighte Pickering and Rodrigo da Costa connecting on a few solid chances, and were able to strike first with Bruno Fernandez drawing a foul inside the penalty box. Bruno Lapa converted the penalty to score his fourth goal of the season.
The momentum would quickly shift back to the road side as several half chances were created, all that was missing was the final product. Prince Saydee would solve this issue with a first half brace, scoring both goals in a seven-minute span and giving the underdogs the lead.
“They were strong, they were quick,” head coach Stephen Glass said. “We weren’t quite at it in the first half and we got punished, probably not as severely as we could have been.”
The dispiriting first half led to a few changes after the break. Jelani Peters and Samuel Careaga would come on for Pickering and Lapa allowing for a formation change.
“I don’t really like changing shape too much, but I felt like a drastic action was needed at halftime,” Glass said. “I think when you start the second half like that with the change of shape, it gives the boys belief, the crowd got up again as well, which was good.”
The adjustment seemingly impacted Aiden McFadden the most who was pivotal in the attack, flying up and down the right side of the pitch. He collected two assists in the second half, the first a ball into the box that allowed Careaga to score his first goal for Memphis in front of an announced crowd of 3,417.
The goals would not stop there for 901 FC after Careaga’s equalizer. Luiz Fernando and da Costa each had ‘goal of the week’ worthy goals to put the game away. Fernando drove into empty space on the right side of the box, launching a strike into the top left corner. Rodrigo matched a career-high 11th goal of the season (eight with Memphis) with a free kick goal — pinging the ball off the crossbar and into the back of the net.
The road ahead for Memphis will be tough as all five of their final opponents will be in the playoffs, or are currently fighting for a spot. This includes two matches against Birmingham Legion, the first coming on Wednesday, September 20 at 7pm in Birmingham.
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