CHARLOTTE, NC – The Charlotte Independence hosted the 2nd Round of the 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday, April 5 at American Legion Memorial Stadium. The Jacks fell to NC Fusion U23’s by a score of 2-4. Despite the result, the Jacks put two goals in the back of the net and created a lot of chances in the final third.
“We had some good stretches and good moments, which shows where we took the lead twice, one on a set piece goal and the other off a nice counter and a composed finish,” explained Charlotte Independence Head Coach, Mike Jeffries. “I thought we had some good stretches in between that, and we managed the game well.”
The first goal came in the 14th minute off a set piece from #10 Ayrton Paez. He placed a service at the back post for a wide open #5 Shalom Dutey who was left with an easy header to finish it off. #9 Ivan Luquetta beat a couple defenders and dribbled towards the endline in the 42nd minute. He looked across the box and found a dashing Paez sprinting towards the top of the penalty spot. Paez took the shot and placed in the lower left corner of the net for the Jacks’ second goal of the night.
“All the guys have welcomed me in the best way, but [the team’s performance] was not enough today,” Paez said about the U.S. Open Cup result.
“I think some of the positives were going up, taking the lead twice,” defender Clay Dimick said. “I think it’s a good sign that we can take the lead even after we concede, and we did create chances. Before we got the red card, there were moments when we defended in our shape really well.”
The focus moves to the 2022 Home Opener presented by Chick-Fil-A. It’s the start of the USL League One season for the Jacks as they make their debut vs. expansion side, Central Valley Fuego FC. Fuego FC (1-0-0) defeated Greenville Triumph SC by a score of 2-0 on opening weekend.
When asked about the keys to Friday’s match, Jeffries stated, “First, we have to recover. I mean, this was a hard night. You can play preseason games and so forth, but it just doesn’t offer the same intensity. The way the schedule worked with having the Open Cup first, it’s just the breaks of it all.” The Independence are excited to welcome fans back to American Legion Memorial Stadium on Friday night. The club has prepared a lineup of family-friendly entertainment including a live DJ, halftime contests and a fireworks show after the match. Tickets are still available at charlotteindependence.com.