BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Birmingham Legion FC faced a tough loss against Inter Miami in a 0-1 defeat that was filled with controversy.
This was the quarterfinal match of the US-Open cup which Legion advanced to after defeating Charlotte FC 1-0 at Protective Stadium. Birmingham showed up in support of their team with a record-breaking 18,418 in attendance.
Much of the talk going into the game surrounded the recent announcement that world champion Lionel Messi is heading to Miami from his current club Paris Saint-Germain FC. Messi turned down offers from both Saudi Arabia and has past club FC Barcelona and instead is joining Inter Miami who is currently last in the MLS.
The first half was a close affair filled with chances coming on both sides of the pitch.
Halfway through the first half, Legion’s Prosper Kasim had a shot on the 18-yard box that appeared to hit Inter Miami defender Sergii Kryvtsov’s arm. The Legion players appealed to the referee who gave a corner kick.
Going into the second half, the game started off again as both sides probed each other’s defenses looking for a break. The break fell to Inter Miami’s Nicolás Stefanelli who received the ball in the box and hit past Legion’s Van Oekel.
After the goal, Miami pressed into their own half as they attempted to hold the pressure coming from Legion who were backed by a loud atmosphere from the stands.
At the 70′ min, drama struck again as Legion’s Tyler Pasher got fouled after getting struck by an Inter Miami player, and after play was stopped, Pasher as well as Legion’s Mikey Lopez and Coach Tommy Soehn were booked with yellow cards by the ref.
From there the rest of the game was filled with serve time wasting from the Inter Miami players and several other controversial calls by the referee who stopped several times slowing down the game.
The fans were making themselves heard both supporting the Legion as well as stating their frustration and anger to both the Miami players and the referees.
The game ended with 10 min of extra time but no addition scoring with the final whistle announcing Miami’s win with security escorting the ref’s off the field after the games as some objects were being thrown from the stands.
Head Coach Tom Soehn and Defender Alex Crognale talked after the game on the officiating, game itself and the passion of the fans.
Coach Soehn said “We were unfortunate on the wrong side of some of those [calls from the ref]”, “All I can say is we try to play the game the right way, the way we can be proud of ourselves, it will hurt but we will pull up our socks and do it again and now we can focus on the league and make sure we take that as far as we can.”
Both talked about the amazing crowd and how they helped keep the energy up, thanking them for all of their support the entire game.
Inter Miami did not attend the post-game conference.
Indy Eleven is up next for the Legion as they play at home on June 17 at 6:30 pm.