By Tyler Trent
Patrick Agyemang attacks with the ball at his feet (Photo courtesy of TopBin90's Jake Sokol)
Crown Legacy FC made their competitive debut in MLS Next Pro on Saturday in a thrilling 2-2 draw with Huntsville City FC (Nashville SC’s 2nd team.) If you missed the match, we have a brief recap for you as well as a preview for their next match.
Mecklenburg County Sportsplex at Matthews will play host to all of Crown Legacy’s home matches this season. The pitch looked excellent and many players were preparing to make their first professional debut. Both teams had a collection of players that had previous pro experience. For Crown Legacy, Ben Bender, Jan Sobociński, and Chris Hegardt all started. Brandon Cambridge and Charlotte FC’s 2023 draft picks Nick Scardina, Hamady Diop, and Patrick Agyemang all got the start. Two of Charlotte FC’s homegrown players got their first start with the young Nimfasha Berchimas and Jack Neeley making their competitive debuts as well.
Huntsville City got the scoring underway quickly with a goal from Azaad Liadi. However, Charlotte would equalize soon thanks to a penalty from Brandon Cambridge. The penalty was earned after a strong run from Patrick Agyemang into the box. The first half ended 1-1 with many exciting attacking players getting their chance to shine for both squads. Throughout the match, 16 players earned minutes with Crown Legacy, including a 10-minute appearance from Brian Romero. In the 72nd minute, Liadi added his second goal to take the lead back for Huntsville City. Crown Legacy continued to push for an equalizer and was finally able to make the breakthrough when Jack Neeley was able to win a header high up the pitch and Nick Scardina was able to pick it up and score with a tidy finish to make it 2-2.
In MLS Next Pro, draws will be resolved in the same manner as hockey. Each team will earn a point for the draw, however, a penalty shootout will take place afterward for an additional point to be earned. Crown Legacy ultimately lost this shootout and Huntsville City walked away with 2 points.
Nimfasha Berchimas fights to keep possession (Photo courtesy of TopBin90's Jake Sokol)
The Mecklenburg County Sportplex is a great venue to host Crown Legacy FC. Before the game, there were some tailgates outside the stadium, including a block party hosted by the club that included a live band, food carts, a mini-pitch, and more. The weather tried to dampen the party, but it was only temporary.
Inside the stadium, food trucks were set up on each side of the stadium for fans to enjoy a snack or meal while at the match. No matter where you choose to sit, you have an excellent view of the match and can get a glimpse of the game you might not find at a Charlotte FC match.
After the match, every Crown Legacy player spent a significant amount of time meeting fans, signing memorabilia, and taking photos.
With the inaugural match out of the way, the team behind Crown Legacy will continue to improve the game day experience for fans with the feedback they receive from fans, so let them know what you liked or didn't!
The Next Match
Crown Legacy FC will be back at the Mecklenburg County Sportsplex tomorrow (3/31) to take on FC Cincinnati 2. The match will begin at 7 pm EST. FC Cincinnati 2 won their first match of the season against Toronto FC II 4-2. Last season, FC Cincinnati finished last in the Eastern Conference of MLS Next Pro, but things could be looking up for them in 2023.
Crown Legacy FC is stacked with exciting young talent and both players you are familiar with and newcomers that may become household names as we move forward and they continue to build their legacy.