TAMPA, Fla. – USL League One today announced the Team of the Week for Week 5 of the 2022 regular season with Charlotte Independence midfielder Miguel Ibarra named Player of the Week. In Charlotte’s two Week 5 matches, Ibarra maintained the highest passing score of the week and recorded an assist in Charlotte’s victory over Omaha.
Hosting two of the league’s top early season contenders, Charlotte dropped a close 2-1 contest against the table-topping Richmond Kickers on Monday before shocking reigning champion Union Omaha 2-1 in stoppage time on Saturday. After the go-ahead Omaha goal in Charlotte’s second match, the Independence flexed its offensive muscles, scoring twice in the final ten minutes. The equalizer came from a combination of a beautiful Miguel Ibarra cross and tough Iván Luquetta headed finish in the 83rd minute. Finally, Khori Bennett earned his first professional goal - the match-winning strike - forcing a ball over the line in stoppage time.
“I’m very proud of the team for showing a lot of heart and character, especially coming back from a goal down again,” stated Charlotte Independence Head Coach Mike Jeffries after the victory over Omaha. “We’ve managed to keep ourselves in games and find ways to get an equalizer and get a result. I’m really proud of the guys."
In addition to Charlotte’s trio of placements on the Team of the Week, Richmond and Greenville see two players earn the weekly honor following a pair of respective victories. Additionally, South Georgia Tormenta FC, Central Valley Fuego FC, Union Omaha and Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC all recorded one player on the list.
GK – Akira Fitzgerald, Richmond Kickers: In the Kickers’ early week victory over the Independence, Fitzgerald recorded six saves and limited the Charlotte attack to just one goal.
D – Shalom Dutey, Charlotte Independence: Scoring his third goal of the season and second in league play, Dutey added five recoveries, four interceptions and three clearances to his outing.
D – Evan Lee, Greenville Triumph SC: Lee won his side the match-winning penalty kick and recorded six clearances in Greenville’s shutout victory over the Red Wolves.
D – Deshawon Nembhard, South Georgia Tormenta FC: Nembhard tallied his first League One assist on Adrian Billhardt’s 61st-minute score and contributed to Tormenta FC’s 2-0 victory over Tucson with a combined 10 interceptions and recoveries.
D – Nathan Smith, Central Valley Fuego FC: Smith aided in another Week 5 shutout as he added to Fuego FC’s 1-0 victory over Madison with six recoveries, three clearances and two interceptions.
M – Leonardo Baima, Richmond Kickers: In his most minutes played in a match with Richmond, Baima showed out with two key assists on both Kickers’ goals and four chances created.
M – Miguel Ibarra, Charlotte Independence: With the highest passing score on the week, Ibarra’s veteran skillset was on full display as the 32-year-old converted 75 of his 78 passes, won five of nine ground duels and dished out two key passes in his two matches to accompany an assist in Charlotte’s victory over Omaha.
M – Koa Santos, Charlotte Independence: Playing on the right wing in both contests, Santos completed 83% of his passes, recorded 18 recoveries, 10 interceptions, three key passes and an assist.
M – Aaron Walker, Greenville Triumph SC: Walker put away the penalty to claim the victory over Chattanooga while also completing five of seven long balls and 36 of 44 passes.
F – Noe Meza, Union Omaha: Despite the last-minute loss to Charlotte, Meza converted a special solo strike for his first league goal and recorded four of six successful dribbles.
F – Irvin Parra, Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC: Parra opened the scoring in the Hailstorm’s victory over NCFC and proved to be vital to Northern Colorado’s attacking success in Cary.