|More woe for Charlotte Independence with 3-1 loss to Tampa|
|Playoff hopes fade as winless streak nears 2 months|
|Published Saturday, September 7, 2019 10:11 pm|
|PHOTO | LEROY HARDEN|
|The Charlotte Independence have gone nearly two months without a win. They lost to Tampa Bay 3-1 Saturday in Matthews.|
MATTHEWS—Winning eludes the Charlotte Independence.
Their 3-1 loss to Tampa Bay Saturday is another nail in the coffin of a season to forget. The Rowdies, second in the USL Championship East, improved to 15-5-7 with 52 points. The Independence, 13th in the East, is 5-12-11 with 26 points. They are approaching two months since their last win—a 2-1 result against Saint Louis on July 13. The top 10 teams in each conference advance to the USL Championship playoffs.
“Tonight was a really hard night,” said inaugural franchise head coach Mike Jeffries, who started the season as general manager before replacing Jim McGuinness as head coach in June. “Most of the time, we’ve been in games and competed. Tonight we were second best in a lot of ways, and was disappointed in that.”
Charlotte’s lack of cohesion is evident.
“I can’t go down the line and say that there is a lack of effort,” Jeffries said. “Where we don’t make the effort at times, for me, enough, and you watch Tampa play, any time a guy gets the ball, the number of guys getting forward, making hard runs, trying to get on the ball is tremendous, and we haven’t played with that same aggression. We’ve worked on it. We’ve talked about it. We’ve shown it. It just comes down to guys doing it, and we haven’t done it. That’s hurt us a little bit. It has certainly made it harder for us to press and pressure teams. It’s made it harder for us to create chances.”
Whatever Charlotte’s chemistry looks like in practice, it has not translated to games.
“We’ve been gelling in practice,” said defender Hugh Roberts, who scored Charlotte’s lone goal against the Rowdies. “We’re trying to play possession based, but I think we kind of got away from it, after that break when we went on a little run [when they were unbeaten June 8-July 24]. We just took our foot off the gas. We’ve been trying to find our form since.”
Charlotte’s final six games come down to what Jeffries referred to as “simple things.”
“We have to start doing some of the simple things and have the simple things go right for us,” Jeffries said.
Said Roberts: “We’re still trying to break teams down because that’s our strength, and that’s our style, but now, just defensively doing the little things. That’s really the only thing that’s killing us—the little things, like tracking people, or communicating, following your man. That’s what’s really killing us, not necessarily these teams outplaying us.”
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