The Charlotte Independence have now tied four games straight without a loss or gaining a victory with another draw against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, an entertaining 2-2 match at the Matthews Sportsplex.
The Independence fourth consecutive draw was hard fought and goals by Jorge Herrera his 32nd in his career with Charlotte and Cordell Cato were timely and important as the team picked up another point in the standings.
However, Head Coach Mike Jeffries simply stated “we blew it.” He was not satisfied with his teams performance. “I mean at 2-0 we should have closed the game out. It didn’t go our way, however, we didn’t manage the game as well as we should have at the end. I’ll take responsibility for that.”
The Independence dominated the first half of the game. Yann Erka the talented midfielder took three shots and completed seventy five percent of this passes, the team owned time of possession 66 to 34 percent. However, either team was able to score in the first 56 minutes of competition.
In the 57th minute, Independence all-time scoring leader Jorge Herrera scored his seventh goal of the season off a nice feed by Cordell Cato inside the box. Later Herrera at the 64th minute would find teammate Cato at the back post to put the Jacks up 2-0 looking real solid and well positioned for a victory and 3 huge points in the standings.
The Rowdies would respond at the 66th minute with a goal by defender Tamika Mkandawire to make the score 2-1 with Independence still in good shape. However, in the 89th minute Joel Johnson received his second yellow card which forced Independence to play the remainder of the contest down one man. This gave the Rowdies an 11 to 10 man advantage and quickly scored at the 90th minute when Rowdies Dominic Oduro would tie the game at 2-2. The Jacks had to play the entire second half one man down.
Later in the game Independence defender Donnie Smith would receive a red card for violent contact. Therefore, both Johnson and Smith will sit down with one game suspensions for their on the field actions.
The highlight of the evening was Jorge Herrera the ageless wonder who at 37 is still playing at a very high caliber of competition. His experience, conditioning and game knowledge have served him well so he can compete with many much younger professional athletes.
Jorge who is always humble, just stated he is “humbled and grateful by the experience. “Those are the things you cherish once you stop playing and get past the daily grind, and look back, but for right now we just need to keep it going.” He has 50 career goals in the USL, and 32 playing for the Independence as its face of the franchise.
The Independence will hit the road to play the Bethlehem Steel FC on Saturday June 30th. Their next home game will be against Nashville SC on Wednesday July 11th at Matthews Sportsplex with a kickoff of 7:30 pm.