Preseason’s over; what do we know?

Legion wraps up preseason in style

Chattanooga FC YouTube

On Saturday the Legion finished up its preseason with a convincing 3-0 victory over Chattanooga FC. That followed a tight 1-2 home loss to Atlanta United, a 2-3 loss at Nashville SC and a 2-1 win at Huntsville City.

Losses to two MLS teams early in preseason are not anything to be concerned about, especially given the weather for the Atlanta game and that they were a little bit further developed in their own preseason preparations. The Nashville game was closed-door, but the Legion led 2-1 after goals by Mohamed Buya Turay and Tyler Pasher before giving the equalizer and then the winner 6 minutes into second half stoppage time. The Huntsville game was by all accounts a feisty affair, with all 3 goals coming from PKs.

The Chattanooga game would likely stand as the most representative of what we are to expect in the regular season, as the roster would be more or less firmed up at this point. That being said, we did get to see two new names, one of whom started the game and was listed on the team’s X account as a trialist. However, his name did appear on his shirt, although you had to be pretty close to be able to read the itty-bitty font. He is Kobe Hernandez-Foster. He’s a 21-year-old from LA and plays as a defensive mid. HIs experience includes youth stints at the LA Galaxy and VfL Wolfsburg in Germany as well as 25 caps for the US U17 team. He was most recently with Hamarkameratene (more easily known as HamKam) of the Norwegian Eliteserien where he racked 42 first team appearances. Since his name was on the shirt, we can assume he will be announced pretty soon.

A similar assumption can be made for Mujeeb Murana who played the last 15 minutes or so in Chattanooga. He is Nigerian-born but holds US citizenship. A bit older at 23, he’s a right back. He came up through the Houston Dynamo Academy and also St. Louis University. Her made 2 appearances for Houston in the Open Cup and 45 for Houston 2.

Both of these guys will add defensive depth as well as potential sell-on value if they pan out. It’s also likely the Legion is looking ahead to a near-certain sale of Matthew Corcoran in the summer transfer window ( no dates set yet but probably opening in July). Hernandez-Foster is the apparent option to fill that hole.

He did well on Saturday, in fact, largely holding the Chattanooga attack at bay alongside Enzo Martinez, who now seems to be locked into a pivot role in the defensive midfield. That would be the attacking half of the pivot, of course, but it is a bit of a shift for the veteran.

So what did we learn from this game?


This has been somewhat lacking at the Legion since the departure of Jonny Dean but now appears to have been added in spades. Dawson McCartney, who played as a left wingback/ fullback, has a serious burst when he turns the afterburners on. Preston Tabort Etaka on the other side is going to leave defenders in his wake. Buya Turay, who tends to do the typical striker thing of loitering around up top also looks like he can turn it on when needed. And then there all the younger guys who should all be equipped with jets…

3 or 4 at the back?

Well, both. And possibly also 5. On Saturday we saw a back line of AJ Paterson, Alex Crognale and Phanuel Kavita, but Dawson McCartney fell back into a left back position pretty frequently. And that means we also have at least one defensive mid and a right wingback who can drop back as required. That will be needed as the back 3 played pretty spread out. Gaps will need to be filled.

Still, a 3-man back line is pretty much the optimal choice in the USL Championship, and something the Legion has been generally leery to implement. That looks to have changed and will be a major part of a tactical rethink this season.


In addition to the unbelievable goal Preston scored from out wide (which may have been an attempted cross, to be honest), he sent in numerous balls from the right wing. That included two chances early in the second half. Buya Turay should have finished both of them, but did get one. that will also free up Prosper Kasim and Tyler Pasher to do the same with their dominant left feet on the other wing, and maybe McCartney as well. The slight problem with that is a lack of height up front. Buya Turay is 5’11”. That’s not small of course, but it’s a good 2 inches less than Juan Agudelo. For set pieces though we do of course have mountain men Crognale and Kavita. Not too big of a problem, but Mohamed is going to need to create space for himself in open play with bigger center backs around.


Matthew Corcoran must be feeling a tad old. He is 18 now, but there are plenty of younger guys coming up behind him. There is the recently signed 15-year-old Ramiz Hamouda, who dressed but did not play Saturday (he’s also at least 6’3″ already). 17-year-old Finn Calloway from Mountain Brook did get some minutes and looked good. We can expect both of these youngsters to get serious playing time in the new Legion 2 as they develop into potential full-time first-team starters. And that’s just the start of presumably a youth-heavy 2 roster yet to come.


Enzo has been the spot-kicker of choice the last year or so, but in preseason he took none of the 3 the Legion were awarded. Tyler took 2 and Buya 1, scoring on all three. Having at least 3 reliable penalty kickers is huge, especially with one of them being left-footed.

Much to consider, and all of it relatively good. We’ll reserve an overall judgment as to how the Legion will fare until later in the week, but hyang on to your hats, the 2024 editions of the Legion and the USL Championship as a whole are going to be a significant upgrade form years past.

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