Charlotte Independence Play to Draw on Military Appreciation Night

Independence Alex Martinez matriculating ball downfield. (Ed Berti)

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World War II Veteran James Crump carries game ball into Sportsplex at Matthews.  (Ed Berti)
Independence Eamon Zayed in action against Penn FC. (Charlotte Independence)
Singing of the National Anthem at Matthews Sportsplex. (Ed Berti)
On the field action at Matthews Sportsplex. (Ed Berti)
Action around Penn FC goal. (Ed Berti)
VFW Color Guard during opening ceremony. (Ed Berti)

It was Military Appreciation Night out at the Sportsplex at Matthews with a good crowd on hand to support our veterans and the home team.  The Independence and Penn FC played to a 1-1 draw in a matter of 8 minutes between the two goals.

The Jacks powerful Forward Eamon Zayed from Dublin, Ireland scored first at 64 minutes into the contest in the second half.  He smacked the ball into the net on a nice cross pass by Alex Martinez for his fourth goal of the season, while Martinez earned the assist.

“It was a great service from Alex and it was nice to get the goal,” said Zayed.  “With service like that, I think we can score plenty more.”

However, just eight minutes later Penn FC answered when Aaron Dennis scored on a rocket into the net just past the diving Andrew Dykstra to even up the match.  On the play it appeared the defense reacted slowly and Dennis had a clear shot to beat Dykstra.  This breakdown cost the Jacks the win on a night they played solid defense for 89 minutes.

“I thought the energy and effort was real good considering we had to make two changes from the lineup we had yesterday,” said Head Coach Mike Jeffries.  “Defensively, we managed the game very well, but we weren’t as dynamic as we need to be offensively.”

Penn FC applied more pressure in the second half after a first half of even competition with Charlotte appearing to have the advantage in time of possession.  However, at the end of the contest Penn controlled the time of possession 52% to 48%.  Also, five Yellow Cards were issued with the Jacks getting three Jake Areman, Jorge Herrera and Bilal Duckett.

The Independence have been dealing with injuries all season which certainly has had an impact on their on the field performance.  The effort is always superb, however, the flow and continuity of the game suffers, especially offensively.  Key players missing were notably Cordell Cato, Donnie Smith, Sam Vines, Yann Ekra.  While Caleb Calvert was not eligible due to receiving a Red Card in the previous game.

It was Military Appreciation Night and veterans from the VFW, American Legion Post 235, Matthews, and the the Marine Corp League were present.  While World War II veteran James Crump, U.S. Army, and Korea War veteran Ken Price, U.S. Army led the teams on to the field and were honored again at half time with other local veterans.

The Independence will have a week off before returning to action on Wednesday, August 8th against Bethlehem Steel FC at the Sportsplex at Matthews with a kick-off starting at 7:30 pm.

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Ed Berti
Ed is retired and remains active as a freelance writer, local journalist and independent contractor. He is engaged in print and electronic media writing stories covering business, sports, hometown news and veteran's affairs including articles of interest to various media outlets. Ed is a graduate of Wagner College where he earned an MBA and holds a BBA from Pace University.
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