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The Voice of the Black Community
Depth and freshness important to Charlotte Indepdenence
Three USL East games in week will test roster
Published Thursday, June 21, 2018 10:44 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

MATTHEWS—Top of the USL East is within striking distance for the Charlotte Independence.

The Jacks head to Richmond for the start of another three-game week, coming off a 1-all draw against Charleston at home on Saturday. Rookie midfielder Mutaya Mwape scored the equalizer in the second half in the Jacks’ third game in a week after a four-game road trip.

“Over the past few games and the next few games, we’re starting to get a chance to see the depth of our roster,” defender Bilal Duckett said. “Mutaya and Jake [Areman, a fellow midfielder], just to highlight a couple of young guys who came in this past weekend, they really lifted the level of play, gave us some energy and provided valuable minutes. We had three games last week. We’ve got three games coming up next week. Having guys like that step up is vital. These are grown men now. We’ve seen it every day in training. They’re starting to get more comfortable, getting their opportunities and taking their opportunities. Look forward to them being big for us, but also, it’s that time of year where you don’t get to train much, but you do get to be in a good rhythm as a team.”

Charlotte sits fifth in the USL East at 6-4-4 with 22 points. No. 14 Richmond; has 13 points and a 4-8-1 record.

“We’re starting to really find our rhythm, find our stride,” Duckett said. “We had a good run a few games ago. We’ve done well to deal with fatigue and travel. We’re going to have to continue to be really mentally strong, really sharp with our nutrition and with our recovery heading into this next stretch, because the East is super, super tight right now. We’re within striking distance of the top of the table, but there are four-five teams behind us that are in striking distance of us. We have to remain vigilant, and keep picking up points on the road, and at home to get us to where we want to be at the end of the year.”

Said striker Eamon Zayed: “Once we started to score, that brought confidence in. We went six weeks without scoring a goal. Confidence in terms of scoring goals is massive.”

Coach Mike Jeffries has kept training relatively light due to the demands of their upcoming schedule: June 23 at Richmond, June 27 at home against Tampa Bay and June 30 at Bethlehem Steel.

“The three games in a week took a pretty high toll,” Jeffries said. “For different reasons, they were all games that added fatigue. New York was a turf field that was really, really thick and spongy, so legs were heavy after that. Atlanta, the field was soaking in the infield part. That really fatigued guys when they played on that half, and then we come back a couple days later with Charleston having to chase the game. The first part was getting guys who played significant minutes during that stretch fresh and recovered, and then keeping the other group going.”



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