After a win over the weekend, Bethlehem Steel FC has little time to rest as it prepares for a Tuesday night tilt in North Carolina to take on Charlotte Independence. Kick off from the Sportsplex at Matthews is set for 7:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, April 16. The match will be broadcast on ESPN+.
Who is Charlotte Independence?
Charlotte has been in USL since its founding in 2015, posting an all-time record of 47-42-40 in that time span. The club has qualified for the USL Cup Playoffs twice before, each time making it no further than the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The Steel and the Independence have played each other six times before with a record of 3-2-1 in favor of the club from Pennsylvania.
The Independence on the field
2019 has not started well for Charlotte, finding itself with just one point through the club’s first five matches. While the club was able to pull out a 3-3 draw against ATL UTD 2, three of their losses have come to teams above the postseason line (Saint Louis FC, Charleston Battery and New York Red Bulls II) or teams expected there at the end of the year in the case for Indy Eleven. While the Independence enter the midweek contest with a -5 goal differential, offense hasn’t been an issue as they’ve scored multiple goals in three of its five matches.
The Independence may be sitting in 17th, but they are no less a threat than any other team in the USL Championship. The club’s midfield is widely considered as one of the best in the league on paper, despite not having earned the results yet that they would want. The club’s front six is loaded with players that bring MLS experience and always pose a threat that needs to be managed.
Players to watch
Dominic Oduro – Oduro is one of those names that will most likely draw attention every week when looking at Charlotte’s roster. He is one of a few players on the club’s roster with MLS experience, but his was a long and storied career in Major League Soccer. Oduro played for eight clubs during his 12 year career in MLS and is always a threat to score any time he steps on the pitch.
Enzo Martínez – Enzo Martínez is another threat up top for the Independence. You can’t focus too much on Oduro without the risk of losing track of Enzo and he is not afraid to take his shot. He currently leads Charlotte with 13 total shots in five matches and is co-leader on assists with two.
Alex Martínez – Unlike his brother Enzo, Alex Martínez plays further back in Charlotte’s formation and is considered to be one of the leaders in the Independence’s strong midfield. Alex is no less of a threat to the Steel defense though, as he shares the title of co-leader for assists with his brother this season with two tallies.
Aaron Maund – Questionable – Shoulder
Jim McGuinness – Jim McGuinness brings coaching experience from Celtic FC, Derry City FC and most recently as an assistant coach for Chinese Super League side Beijing Sinobo Guoan Football Club. McGuinness has a history of yielding team-performance improvements. At Beijing he took the club from ninth in 2017 to fourth in 2018 and won a record-tying fifth Chinese FA Cup Championship.