Legion open second half of season vs North Carolina FC

Birmingham Legion preps for match against Tampa Bay Rowdies

Legion FC kicks off the second half of the season in USL Championship play vs. North Carolina FC on Saturday back home at BBVA Field. Fresh off a two-week break, the squad looks to start the second half of this inaugural season on the front foot with a big win and a boost back towards a playoff spot.

When asked what the focus has been over the break for the second half of the season, Head Coach Tom Soehn said, “We have to get better defensively. As a unit we’re giving the ball away. In our last game against Pittsburgh we gave the ball away 20 times in our own half, and we just have to do a better job of keeping the ball. Getting the right pieces on the field to accomplish those goals is important.”

“We’re disappointed with how the first half of the season went. We had some highs and lows, but we definitely ended in a place we didn’t want to be,” explained Soehn. “Getting some time off and coming back refreshed lets you reset the bar. We know we have 17 games left, and there’s no better place to turn things around than with a three game homestand.”

“We took a hard look at what we have [over the break], we’ve added some pieces, made some changes, and hopefully that will parlay into some better results.”

North Carolina FCcurrently sits in fourth place in the East and have consistently been one of the more impressive teams in the league this season. The club is riding an eight-game unbeaten streak and have only lost twice all year – and not since May 12.

NCFC leans on a stiff, yet disciplined, defense that has given up the third-least goals in the USL Championship (14), while only receiving 19 yellow cards, second-least in the league. The attack is also balanced, with Marios Lomis leading the side in goals (6), Ben Speas leading in chances created (39), and Steven Miller tops in assists (4) and shots (36). 

When asked about the keys to the match, #7 Brian Wright said, “last time they tried to play out [from the back] a lot, so just anticipating those little things, pressing in the right areas, and trying to win the ball high up the field.”

The extended break proved beneficial in more ways than one for Legion FC, as #17 Gael Mabiala is the only player out due to injury, per the UAB Medicine injury report. #11 JJ Williams is back in Birmingham for the game, on loan from the Columbus Crew, and #21 Zach Herivaux has also returned following the completion of his run with the Haitian National Team in this summer’s Gold Cup.

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