|Independence drop points in 3-1 home loss to USL rival Nashville|
|Charlotte 2 points out of Eastern Division playoffs|
|Published Saturday, August 17, 2019 10:10 pm|
|PHOTO | ASHLEY MAHONEY|
|The Charlotte Independence are two points out of the final playoff spot in the USL Championship Eastern Conference.|
MATTHEWS—The Charlotte Independence cannot afford to drop points.
Inconsistency could keep them out of the USL Championship playoffs for the second consecutive season, unless they right the ship in their final nine games. Five take place at home, including the regular season finale on Oct. 19 against Ottawa. Charlotte has a winning record at home (4-2) since coach Mike Jeffries replaced Jim McGuinness on June 12; however, they have yet to win on the road, which does not bode well for a team needing maximum points for a postseason berth.
“We need to step up,” Jeffries said after Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Nashville at Sportsplex. “We realize that our back is to the wall to a large degree, and it adds a little bit of pressure, but I think we almost just have to relax, and come back to just being ourselves, and do the things that got us some success and some points.”
Charlotte (5-10-10, 25 points) lost to a Nashville side (13-5-6, 45 points) that sits third in the Eastern Conference. The Independence stands 12th, two spots and two points out of playoff position. Charlotte gave up an early goal, went into halftime level, but fell apart after a penalty midway through the second half. It’s been over a month since their last win.
“A really disappointing night,” Jeffries said. “We just started the game so tentatively, and didn’t really push the game on either side of the ball.”
Charlotte midfielder Isaac Angking, on loan from the MLS side New England Revolution, made his home debut. His possession-oriented style of play fits Jeffries’ system.
“My style of play is keeping the ball as much as we can,” Angking, 19, said.
Said Jeffries: “Isaac is excellent technically, and an excellent passer. He has a really good range, and he’s able to see passes forward, and break lines for us. He’s able to see and hit both short and long [passes] pretty well. He gives us maybe a different look from the center of midfield in that regard, which has been a positive. He also has good athleticism to create space for himself, and beat guys on occasion as well. He has shown well, certainly on the ball. He finds the game pretty well, and connects guys.”
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