Player Ratings: Hartford Athletic 0-1 Birmingham Legion

A big defensive effort all around

Another week, another lineup. But more points in the bag and the Legion is looking good so far this season. For various reasons Tommy Soehn changed things around again but came up with a winning strategy. We’ll get into that rather more in Diving Deep later this week. This is how we rate the individual team members.

GK: TREVOR SPANGENBERG – 8. A rare start in league play for Trevor, but he certainly made the most of it, getting the Three Sparks’ first clean sheet of the year. He stopped all 4 shots on target, and was not to be one-upped by MVO, producing an impressive double-save. That’s one a week by the Legion. 3 of those saves were in the final ten minutes of regulation and were key to the victory.

LB: GABRIEL ALVES – 7. A second straight start for Gabriel and, boy, did he step up. In 74 minutes he had 1 tackle, 1 clearance and 1 block. His passing was moderately good at 69.6% accuracy on 23 attempts, and he won just 2 of 7 duels. But that goal…

CB: PHANUEL KAVITA – 7. If Phanny’s middle name isn’t consistency, it should be. This week he was relatively active compared to most games, with 1 tackle and 5 clearances, along with winning 5 of 6 duels. It’s not often a team will try to get past him. It didn’t work. 73.3% of his 30 passes found a target and all but 1 in the attacking half. He even got a shot in (off target).

CB: ALEX CROGNALE – 8. Not exactly the libero this week, but close. Alex racked up 5 clearances and 3 interceptions, winning 4 of 7 duels. A decent 76.1% accuracy rate on 46 passing attempts and 1 scoring chance created.

RB: COLLIN SMITH – 7. Collin went the full 90 and for once at his preferred position. His passing was poorish, connecting on just 20 of 33 tries. However, he won 9 of a hefty 16 duels, including both aerial duels, and recorded 1 tackle, 2 clearances and 1 interception. A very solid performance.

LDM: ANDERSON ASIEDU – 8. Tommy pulled a fast one with the double pivot as Ando and Matthew shared the attacking and defensive roles. Ando was 87.8% accurate on 41 passes, had 1 shot on frame and 1 blocked, and created 1 chance. Defensively he had 5 tackles and 1 interception, and won 12 of his incredible 19 duels, even winning 4 of 5 in the air (er, how?).

RDM: MATTHEW CORCORAN – 8. Gutsy but brilliant call of the year: having a 17-year-old play an entire game. Matthew, in his first start, earns Man of the Match honors from the Forge. He put up a team-high 48 passes, missing his target on only 8. Of those, 7 were crosses, accounting for 6 of the missed passes. He had 2 shots blocked and created 3 scoring chances. Defensively he had 4 tackles, 2 blocks and 2 interceptions and won 5 of 8 duels. Impressive.

LAM: JUAN AGUDELO – 7.5. Playing out of his natural position again, Juan had another good game. His shooting was unsurprisingly limited, with both attempts blocked, but he did create 1 scoring chance, but had no crosses to his name. Passing was strong, completing 82.9% of 41 tries. But on defense…9 of 19 duels won, 4 clearances, 2 blocks and 2 interceptions. Spoiled by a yellow card deep in first half stoppage time for interfering with a free kick.

CAM: ENZO MARTINEZ – 7. Enzo’s first start of the year, and he looks like there is still a bit of rust to clean off. He went the full 90, however. 80% accurate on 30 passes, no shots, but 3 chances created. Like almost the entire team, he was also involved in defense (8 of 13 duels won, 2 tackles, 1 interception).

RAM: TYLER PASHER – 7. Tyler came off looking a bit gimpy in the 84th minute, which is potentially bad news. No goals this week, but his speed remains a huge factor in the Legion attack. 1 shot on target, 1 off, and 2 chances created.

FWD: NECO BRETT – 7. Neco also needs to work up to full fitness, starting but playing only 74 minutes this week. 1 shot on target and another blocked; 2 chances created. With him and Enzo in top form, watch out league.

SUB: DIBA NWEGBO – 7. Bring on a striker with 16 minutes left with a 1-goal lead. He has 1 shot blocked. But he also gets 1 tackle, 1 clearance and 1 block. That’s taking the false 9 to extremes.

SUB: MOSES MENSAH – 7. Moses came on in the 84th minute for clean-up duty, and really didn’t have all that much to do, but…

SUB: PROSPER KASIM – 7. Prosper came on with just 5 minutes of regulation time left, and proceeded to burn well over a minute in stoppage time deep in Hartford’s left corner in genius fashion. He got some assistance from Enzo and Moses, frustrating Niall Logue enough to get him a yellow card.

HC: TOMMY SOEHN – 8. Tommy is becoming the king of the formation switcheroo. Everyone knows he likes the 4-2-3-1. He puts it out there. Then doesn’t play it. This was another tactical success pulled from deep in coaching manuals.

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