|Jacks pick up momentum-building USL win against Richmond|
|2-1 victory is Charlotte's second in a row|
|Published Saturday, September 8, 2018 11:13 pm|
MATTHEWS—The Charlotte Independence have no room for error.
Charlotte (9-11-8, 11th, 35 points, 11th) stands four points out of eighth place in the USL East with six regular season games remaining. They remain unbeaten in September league matches following tonight’s 2-1 victory against Richmond (6-18-4, 15th, 22 points, 15th) and 1-0 win against Nashville (10-8-9, 39 points, eighth) a week earlier.
“We know we don’t have any mulligans, or room for error,” coach Mike Jeffries said. “Especially on a home date, we’ve got to get three points. There’s no real options or space for us to not get it done. I think the guys knew that, and put a tremendous amount of energy into tonight.”
Charlotte had not produced consecutive league wins since a season-best three match streak from May 12-June 2 when they scored 10 goals and conceded three during that span.
“It’s now or never,” striker Eamon Zayed said. “Games are coming quick, and they are running out for us.”
Zayed put the Jacks up 1-0 in the fifth minute against Richmond, scoring their earliest goal of the season (previous best: sixth minute in Atlanta on June 13). He made a case to be included in Charlotte’s starting lineup more often, as he has scored five goals in nine starts.
“It’s been a tough season for me,” Zayed said. “I am used to playing regularly, and it’s been a tough season—in and out, in and out. When I’ve started, I’ve shown that I can score. I’d like to play a little bit more and score some more.”
Rookie midfielder Jake Areman scored the game-winner against Richmond, his second professional goal in the last three league matches.
“You start catching rhythm,” Areman said. “It’s a testament to my teammates. They’ve been really helpful—just pushing me day in and day out. It’s really just about the rhythm. When you get going it’s just great.”
While Areman has found his rhythm in the attacking third, the Jacks have established a new defensive rhythm with Brandon Miller starting the last two league matches in goal. He replaced Andrew Dykstra following Charlotte’s 6-2 loss at North Carolina F.C. on Aug. 25. Charlotte’s regular season finale features NCFC — a team they have not beaten since the 2015 Open Cup – at the Sportsplex on Oct. 13.
“If we want to make the playoffs, we have to win,” Miller said. “We’re coming out with the mentality every single game that we have to get three points. One point is good. It’s not what we need.”
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