|Charlotte Independence run home win streak to four games|
|Jackson, Martinez tally in 2-1 result vs. Saint Louis|
|Published Saturday, July 13, 2019 9:51 pm|
|The Charlotte Independence are unbeaten over their last seven games, including a 2-1 win Saturday against Saint Louis at the Sportsplex at Matthews. The Jacks are 4-0 in their last four home games.|
MATTHEWS—The Charlotte Independence are enjoying a month of unbeaten soccer.
Saturday’s 2-1 win against Saint Louis is the latest success since the Jacks appointed general manager Mike Jeffries head coach after Jim McGuinness was fired June 12. The Jacks are on a seven-game unbeaten run, dating back to McGuinness’ final game at Swope Park—a 0-0 draw. Charlotte has won all four games at the Sportsplex at Matthews under Jeffries while claiming three draws on the road for 14 points under Jeffries in six games. They earned nine points under McGuinness between March 15 and June 8, a 15-game stretch. Charlotte is now 5-7-8 (23 points), and Saint Louis is 5-5-6 (21 points).
“I’ve said it before,” Jeffries said, “it’s a great group of players. We wanted to try to get everyone on the same page and reestablish what the Independence identity is. Clearly part of the discussion is we have to be good at home. There’s not many options for us.”
Said midfielder Enzo Martinez: “We have a group of players who know how we play, and we’ve been playing together for a while. When Mike took over, we were given the opportunity to bring that, and kind of express ourselves again. It’s been good to get that identity back.”
Striker Niki Jackson put the Jacks up 1-0 in the fifth minute and Martinez extended their lead in the 50th minute. However, former Colorado Rapids striker Caleb Calvert, who spent significant time on loan in Charlotte, scored in the 75th minute for Saint Louis.
“You gain this winning mentality, and you don’t want to lose,” Jackson said. “It makes you want to fight harder and harder every game. This is a great game—2-1 win. Saint Louis brought it to us [after losing 2-0 in the Open Cup quarterfinals to Atlanta], but we stuck together.”
Martinez and Jackson played for the Rapids together last season, spending time together on and off the field.
“Knowing Niki from before, knowing how talented he is—I would spend time with him outside of soccer when I was there,” Martinez said. “I was happy to hear when he was coming over. I knew he was going to help us. I knew for sure, he wasn’t going to be a guy who came in and brought the level down at all. His work rate and what he’s doing is exactly what you need to do when you’re loaned out to a team.”
Jeffries praised the Independence’s focus over the past month, which has resulted in their recent success.
“It’s really important for us,” he said. “The mindset of the guys throughout has been really good. You can see we’re starting to pick up a little bit in confidence and play with a little more belief in what we’re doing. It’s just good to see.”
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