|Charlotte Independence drop 1-0 decision to Louisville City|
|Jacks lose second straight in USL Championship|
|Published Saturday, August 3, 2019 10:27 pm|
|PHOTO | TROY HULL|
|The Charlotte Independence have lost two in a row to fall back to 11th in the USL Championship East Division after a 1-0 setback to Louisville City Saturday in Matthews.|
MATTHEWS—The Charlotte Independence are running out of time.
Louisville City beat the Jacks at home, ending Charlotte’s four-game winning streak at the Sportsplex since coach Mike Jeffries replaced Jim McGuinness in June. Both sides finished the night with 10 players. Louisville (9-7-6, 33 points) defender Paco Craig went off on a second yellow in the 60th minute, and Charlotte (5-9-9, 24 points) midfielder Alex Martinez took a second yellow in the 72nd.
“The game played out a little more tentatively—maybe in part, because of [being playoff contention],” Jeffries said. “Neither them nor us wanted to make mistakes. The first half was a little bit slow, and we weren’t able to push the tempo as much as we would’ve liked. The second half is just sort of a rollercoaster with the two red cards that both changed the game pretty dramatically. We felt pretty good about our situation—up a man, and starting to kind of come into the game a little bit before Alex’s red.”
Said defender Hugh Roberts: “Playoff mode starts right now. I’ve been in this situation a couple of years ago.”
Charlotte, 11th in the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference, is familiar with issues in the final third late in the season, but needs to find answers quickly to keep their playoff hopes alive.
“For us to be shut out twice in a row — tonight, it wasn’t that we didn’t create anything, maybe we didn’t create enough, but I certainly think we forced a couple of really good saves from Chris Hubbard, the goalkeeper, but we didn’t do enough,” Jeffries said. “We weren’t quick enough moving the ball, and our shape, and the timing of our runs was not good enough today. We didn’t test their back line at all with runs behind in any meaningful way. It was very frustrating, because that was one of the things we wanted to do better.”
Rookie midfielder Valentin Sabella continues to provide a spark. Sabella, who joined the Jacks in early June after playing for UPSL side Florida Soccer Soldiers, came on in the 78th minute against Louisville, which is seventh in the East.
“He has earned the minutes he’s gotten, and he’s pushing hard, both on the field, and during training,” Jeffries said.
Said Roberts: “Ever since he made his debut, he’s been providing some good spark for us. We know he creates chances and chances. We know when he’s one, he’s going to be dynamic and electric.”
The top 10 teams from each conference compete for the USL Cup. Charlotte is tied with Saint Louis with 24 points each; however, the latter has the advantage with four games in hand. Saint Louis has played 19 games, while Charlotte, by comparison, has played 23. Five of the Jacks’ remaining 11 matches are on the road, where they have yet to win this season.
“We feel like we’ve been the wrong end of some bounces, like tonight,” Roberts said. “Before we were getting outplayed and outworked. Teams were scoring some good goals on us, but now it’s just the wrong side of the ball, but that’s soccer. We also have to convert our chances as well. It could be a completely different game.”
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