|Charlotte Independence ready to open USL postseason vs. Rochester|
|Fifth-seeded Jacks travel to No. 4 Rhinos|
|Published Thursday, October 19, 2017 1:45 pm|
|The Charlotte Independence, in blue, head into the USL postseason with a five-game losing streak.|
The Charlotte Independence’s playoffs start in Rochester.
The Jacks (13-10-9, 48 points) finished fifth in the USL East, which earned them a trip to fourth-seeded Rochester (14-7-11, 53 points). Kickoff is Saturday at 6:05 p.m. with the victor facing the winner of No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 8 Bethlehem.
“If you look at the schedule, all of the top four teams look at us as the team they don’t want to play,” Charlotte goalkeeper Cody Mizell said. “We have everything in our favor. There’s no real pressure on us, but we’re going to go, we’re going to play our brand of football, and go in there and do whatever it takes to win the game.”
Despite heading into the playoffs on a five-game losing streak, the Jacks head north with confidence. Charlotte beat the Rhinos 2-1 on July 1 in Matthews (both goals from midfielder David Estrada), and lost 4-0 in Rochester on April 29.
“The spirit of the group is very good,” Independence coach Mike Jeffries said. “Guys are going in with pretty good confidence. We know how difficult it is to play in Rochester against their home style of play. We’re doing what we can to prepare for it.”
An identical regular season finish provides a rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals, which Rochester won 3-1. Charlotte accumulated three red cards: midfielders Jack Metcalf, Enzo Martinez and Jun Marques Davidson.
“It’s a playoff game, and we’ll bring intensity,” Jeffries said. “That’s what you see sometimes in playoffs. You come with great intensity, and obviously last year we ended up getting frustrated with the way the game played out. This year, it’s a new group—a different group, but it’s also guys that want to progress in the playoffs, and want to have success. They know that the road goes through Rochester. We’ll manage.”
Playmaker to watch:
Jun Marques Davidson
Charlotte went 1-4-1 without him (injury) between Sept. 2 and Oct. 7. Playing the entire match in their regular season finale against Charleston, which they lost 1-0, Charlotte’s creative heartbeat returned to the center.
“I just do my job,” Davidson said. “I just facilitate as much as I can, and help the players around me. I try to make my teammates better.”
Said defender Bilal Duckett: “He, myself and Henry [Kalungi, defender] have a very good understanding of each other when we’re building out of the back that gives us a little bit more control of the game.”
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