Charlotte, NC — The Charlotte Eagles hit the road today knowing that even though they have secured the franchise’s first playoff berth since 2009, there is still work to be done. Two games remain in the 2013 USL PRO regular season and two victories for the Eagles would mean that Charlotte gets to host a home playoff game. The Eagles currently sit in 5th place in the USL PRO standings but are only four points out of third place. The Eagles will take on VSI Tampa Bay FC on Friday night in Plant City, FL before traveling to face Orlando City SC on Saturday night in the regular season finale for both clubs.
Charlotte punched their playoff ticket with a 5-0 victory over Antigua Barracuda FC on Saturday, August 10th. Drew Yates led the way for the Eagles attack as he finished with one goal and two assists. The Eagles also received goals from Jorge Herrera, who scored twice, Stephen Okai and Paul Islas. Goalkeeper Eric Reed recorded his eighth shutout on the season. Herrera was recently named the USL PRO Player of the Week thanks to his two goals against Antigua and one goal against Harrisburg.
Jorge Herrera and his 10 goals now sit in a tie for 5th place in USL PRO, while his 24 points are good for 6th overall in the league. Eric Reed is now tied for second in the league with eight shutouts. He sits one behind the league leader Andrew Dykstra of the Richmond Kickers. Christian Ramirez is second on the team in scoring with six goals and four assists for 16 points, while Drew Yates and Christian Meza are tied for third with 10 points apiece.
VSI Tampa Bay enters their regular season finale on Friday off of a tough 3-2 loss against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Sunday, August 11th. Following a scoreless first half the Riverhounds responded with a trio of goals to open the scoring in the second half. Jose Angulo scored first in the 53rd minute off a penalty, which made Angulo’s 12th goal of the season. Robert Vincent and Darren Amoo scored in the 60th and 68th before Tampa’s Chad Burt answered in the 70th minute. Andriy Budnyy scored again in the 85th minute to pull the visitors within one but Tampa was unable to find the equalizer and stayed in 9th place in the USL PRO standings.
Tampa Bay’s path to the playoffs is now reliant on outside forces, with VSI needing to claim victory in its final game of the season against Charlotte. VSI would also need the Wilmington Hammerheads to earn four points in its final two games against Pittsburgh and Antigua, and have the Dayton Dutch Lions fall to the Harrisburg City Islanders to earn a place in the postseason.
In the previous matchup between VSI Tampa Bay and Charlotte it was Sergio Villasenor who scored the game’s lone goal in the 74th minute off a Tommy Smith assist. The five former Charlotte Eagles on Tampa Bay’s roster are joined by yet another Eagles alum in Cheyne Roberts. Roberts who was coaching the Ocala Stampede in the USL PDL joined his former teammates and brother Clay Roberts, who is the General Manager, after the Stampede’s season concluded.
Mauricio Salles leads Tampa Bay with nine goals and three assists on the season. Midfielder Chad Burt has recorded five goals and four assists to rank second on the team in scoring behind the Brazilian forward.
Be sure to tune in on Friday night as the Eagles take on VSI Tampa Bay live on USLNation.com!