Player Ratings: Birmingham Legion 4-2 Chattanooga Red Wolves

The Legion goes to college and has an all-nighter

Last night’s game was, well, epic. 120 minutes of all-out entertainment. If you weren’t there, you missed out on a doozy.

GK: MATT VAN OEKEL – 7. Poor defending on big man Leo Folla caused the first goal, but MVO was entirely at fault for the PK. However, the only 2 other shots on goal he faced were both in the dying minutes of extra time and he stopped both of them. Also a very untypical 91% accurate on 22 passes.

LB: MOSES MENSAH – 8. In 120 minutes Moses recorded just 1 tackle. No clearances, no blocks, no interceptions. That’s because he was tearing upfield in support of Dibas Nwegbo and had little to worry about defensively. 9 of 10 in duels though and 8 recoveries. A solid passer rating of 84% on 55 attempts including one successful cross.

CB: ALEX CROGNALE – 7. Alex took f-bomb-laced umbrage at being forced by the ref to stay off the field to fix his footwear, which was his contribution to the comedy part of the evening’s acts (Tim Trilk outdid him that department. The f-bombs at least). 5 clearances, 1 interception, 2 tackles and 8 recoveries. An accuracy rate of 90% on 73 passes, including 86% on 21 long balls. 6 of 9 in duels and he also created a scoring chance.

CB: JAKE RUFE – 7. Jake is getting moved around the field a lot this season. At center back this time he racked up 1 clearance (off the goal line), 1 block, 1 interception and 2 recoveries in 76 minutes. 1 of 3 in duels. Another strong passing performance: 88% completion rate on 51 passes.

RB: DAWSON MCCARTNEY – 7. Dawson’s probably better used as a wingback, but this formation did not allow for that. He didn’t get to move up the field much in his 62 minutes although he did take one shot off target. 30 of 32 in passing. In defense he wasn’t overly challenged either: 2 clearances and 2 recoveries along with 3 of 5 in duels.

LDM: A.J. PATERSON –8. AJ has been the sole pivot in the 4-1-4-1 and maintained that defensive role in the double pivot. He was beaten just once all game and logged 4 clearances and 2 tackles, together with 4 recoveries. Also heavily involved in the attack: 2 blocked shots and 6 passes into the final third. Overall passing was a whopping 91% accurate and good on 6 of 8 long passes.

RDM: MIGUEL PEREZ – 7. It seems to me the Legion – or possibly St. Louis City, who may be making requests – has not yet figured out how to use Miggy. He’s not living up to the hype. Even so, 1 shot off frame and good on 15 of 16 passes, missing on one of his 2 crosses. He went 62 minutes in the start.

LW: DIBA NWEGBO – 8. Diba blew by Red Wolves defenders all night and bamboozled them with his crazy footwork. 1 shot on target, 4 off and 1 blocked. 83% accurate on 35 passes, the 6 bad ones all being crosses (but he connected on 2). He touched the ball 62 times including 8 in the box.

CAM: ENZO MARTINEZ – 6.5. A surprising selection for removal at half-time, but his yellow card may have had something to do with that. He was clearly not a happy camper with that and was at more than normal odds with the ref. Still, he took 3 shots, 1 on target, created 2 chances and was good on 10 of 11 passes.

RW: PRESTON TABORT ETAKA – 8. Preston took 5 shots; 3 were blocked but 2 were on target although they were not overly difficult stops. 90% accurate on 40 passes and good 2 of 10 crosses. He created 2 scoring chances in another strong evening’s work.

FWD: STEFANO PINHO – 9. 2 headers, 1 chesting, 1 kick. 3 of them on corners. The first 4-bagger in Legion history and the first in the US Open Cup since 2019. 2 shots off target, 2 blocked. 2 bicycle kick attempts. Also 10 of 12 in duels. A career evening? I’d say so. Man of the Match? Well, duh.

SUB: TYLER PASHER – 9. I fully expected Tyler to come on at half-time to light up the attack, and so he did. The assists on Stefano’s first two goals. 2 of 3 shots on target. 5 chances created. He was all over the field too. And his ability to dribble at pace and then stop on a dime and reverse direction is a wonder to behold.

SUB: PROSPER KASIM – 8. In 58 minutes Prosper got 1 assist and 1 shot on goal and was good on 42 of 45 passes. He also made 6 recoveries and won all 3 of his duels. A pretty good night’s toil.

SUB: KOBE HERNANDEZ-FOSTER – 8. Kobe came on with Prosper and likewise got an assist (again on a corner). 1 shot off target, 90% accurate on 41 passes. 4 defensive actions and 4 recoveries (although I suspect they were pretty much all in the Chattanooga half).

SUB: MUJEEB MURANA – 7. 44 minutes in relief of Jake. Yet another strong passing performance with 22 of 26 connecting. 1 block, 1 interception, 1 recovery. And 1 shot off target.

SUB: RAMIZ HAMOUDA – 7. Ramiz got his first Legion minutes. Just 9 of them but you gotta start somewhere. FotMob credits him with no statistics, but he muscled one man off the ball spectacularly. I asked him about it and he said “I felt that.” LOL. He’s going to be big (well, he literally already is).

HC: TOMMY SOEHN – 8. Tommy had the Red Wolves figured out. The team played a very high press (hence the 4-2-3-1) and Chattanooga couldn’t handle it. A well-conceived game plan.

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