Despite leading for two different spells at Birmingham Legion FC on Saturday night, Hartford Athletic were pegged back both times and had to settle for a hard-fought, 2-2 road draw. Athletic still occupies 17th place in the Eastern Conference standings and are now 9 points off playoff pace.
After trading blows in the opening 10 minutes, Hartford drew first blood in the 14th. Alex Dixon received the ball on the left wing and slid it into the path of a sprinting Harry Swartz; the Northeastern product poked the ball past Birmingham goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel.
Birmingham responded with an extended spell of complete dominance, forcing Frederik Due into multiple impressive saves and hitting the woodwork once. Eventually, the home side broke through in the 31st minute. Brian Wright fielded a teammate’s pass and laid it off to fellow forward Chandler Hoffman, who eventually curled his shot past a fully outstretched Frederik Due.
The boys in green would then reclaim the lead on the stroke of halftime, grabbing their second goal in the 43rd minute. Mads Jørgensen whipped in an enticing cross from a wing set piece, and Logan Gdula stood right in front of the Birmingham net, turning the Dane’s low ball into the left side netting.
Although Hartford opened the second half in a very lively manner, they found themselves back on a level playing field in the 52nd. Athletic failed to clear a dangerous Birmingham cross, and midfielder Mikey Lopez was the beneficiary, unleashing a low, driving, first-time effort from the top of the 18 that found its way into the bottom left corner of Due’s goal.
While it was a very open, end-to-end affair for the remainder of the match, Birmingham created the bulk of the chances, with Hartford occasionally threatening the home side on the counter. Athletic goalkeeper and eventual Cigna Man of the Match Frederik Due made a myriad of massive stops in the final 40 minutes and finished the night with 8 saves.
However, Hartford was undoubtedly closest to claiming victory, and it looked like the boys in green would sneak out of BBVA Field with a massive road victory in the 78th minute. Substitute Philip Rasmussen’s inswinging free kick delivery eventually found the feet of Logan Gdula, who tapped it across for Jose Angulo. Angulo tapped the ball into an empty Birmingham net, but the goal was eventually disallowed, as the fourth official ruled Gdula was in an offside position.
Both sides pushed aggressively for a winner, but both teams failed to finish off any of their remaining chances. The referee’s whistle sounded after just over 6 minutes of stoppage time, and the teams split the points in an evenly-contested match.
Hartford Athletic returns home for its final match at Pratt and Whitney Stadium this Friday, when it takes on Bethlehem Steel FC at 7:30 PM EST. The boys in green will then hit the road again, facing Memphis 901 FC on Saturday, July 6 at 8:30 PM EST.
Shots: 21-10 BHM
Shots on Target: 10-3 BHM
Corner Kicks: 5-4 HFD
Fouls Committed: 13-11 HFD
Saves: 8-1 HFD
Offside: 3-3 BHM | HFD
Possession: 56-44 BHM
Passing Accuracy: 83-77 BHM
HFD – Harry Swartz 14’
BHM – Chandler Hoffman 31’
HFD – Logan Gdula 43’
BHM – Mikey Lopez 52’
26’ – Daigo Kobayashi (Yellow)
42’ – Kyle Fisher (Yellow)
62’ – Mads Jørgensen (Yellow)
77’ – Tyler Turner (Yellow)
89’ – Philip Rasmussen (Yellow)
90+6’ – Kyle Curinga (Yellow)
HARTFORD ATHLETIC STARTING LINEUP
Frederik Due; Raymond Lee (c.), Logan Gdula, Sem De Wit, Kyle Curinga; Nicky Downs, Mads Jørgensen (Philip Rasmussen 76’), Sebastian Dalgaard (Jose Angulo 63’), Harry Swartz; Danny Barrera (Wojciech Wojcik 76’), Alex Dixon
BIRMINGHAM LEGION FC STARTING LINEUP
Matt Van Oekel (c.); Tyler Turner, Kyle Fisher, Mathieu Laurent (Razak Cromwell 51’); Daigo Kobayashi, Mikey Lopez, Prosper Kasim, Joseph Holland (Gael Mabiala 55’); Brian Wright (Edward Opoku 83’), Daniel Johnson, Chandler Hoffman