TAMPA, Fla. – USL League One today announced the Team of the Week for Week 25 of the 2022 regular season with Charlotte Independence goalkeeper Adrían Zendejas named Player of the Week. Zendejas’ 12 saves in a 3-0 shutout of Fuego FC on Saturday set a league record for most saves in a single match.
Squarely in the middle of a busy League One table, Charlotte were in need of three points in order to retain its favorable position in the upper half of the league as the postseason looms. In a high-pressure scenario on the road, Zendejas went on to record six saves in each half while facing the highest single-match expected goals-against mark in Week 25. Coming up huge on each Fuego FC shot, Zendejas made clutch saves three minutes into the match, in the sixth minute of stoppage time and at every point in between.
“I just want to start off with how proud I am of the boys tonight,” Zendejas said. “To have a performance like that in a tough place is going to give us momentum to secure a playoff spot. Happy with the clean sheet, but again shoutout to all the guys and the coaching staff, medical staff and our kitman.”
“We were very opportunistic, and we took our chances and our goals well,” Charlotte Head Coach Mike Jeffries said. “It was nice to get a set-piece goal early, and I thought we did well defending and getting a couple of good counters. I thought it was a gritty fight against a team that fought really well and didn’t get a result.
“We’re at the end of the season and hopefully we can continue to play with confidence and push and get results."
The Richmond Kickers and Chattanooga Red Wolves SC each earn three spots on the Team of the Week, while Union Omaha and the Charlotte Independence place a pair of representatives on the list as well.
GK – Adrían Zendejas, Charlotte Independence: Zendejas exploded for a league-record 12 saves in a single match to keep the Jacks in the playoff conversation. Despite playing just 19 matches so far this season, the 27-year-old goalkeeper is now tied for fourth and third in saves and clean sheets, respectively.
D – Nicolás Cardona, Chattanooga Red Wolves SC: Making his second consecutive Team of the Week appearance, Cardona assisted Timmy Mehl’s late Red Wolves equalizer against Richmond. The Puerto Rico international also tallied seven duels won, five tackles won and four recoveries.
D – Timmy Mehl, Chattanooga Red Wolves SC: Mehl proved to be Chattanooga’s unlikely hero as the defender scored the equalizing goal just four minutes after seeing his side reduced to 10 men against the league’s top team. In addition to scoring his first professional goal, Mehl tallied three recoveries and two clearances.
D – Stephen Payne, Richmond Kickers: The former United States youth international recorded his first professional goal since scoring for Varzim SC in Portugal back in 2019. In two Week 25 matches, Payne reeled in eight recoveries and won eight possessions.
D – Stuart Ritchie, Richmond Kickers: Another former United States youth international anchoring the Richmond backline, Ritchie assisted Stephen Payne’s 89th-minute equalizer in Omaha. Ritchie went on to accumulate 10 recoveries and eight duels won.
M – Moe Espinoza, Chattanooga Red Wolves SC: Espinoza knocked in his sixth score of the season on Saturday to spark Chattanooga’s remarkable comeback to salvage a draw against the Kickers. In his last four matches, Espinoza has recorded three goals and one assist.
M – JP Scearce, Union Omaha: Continuing the most productive season of his three-year professional career, Scearce secured his second brace of the season against Richmond on Wednesday. Across two matches, Scearce recorded 20 duels won, 15 recoveries and five chances created.
M – Nil Vinyals, Richmond Kickers: Aiding the Kickers’ strong run to end the regular season, Vinyals recorded a goal and pair of assists in Richmond’s win against Omaha and draw against Chattanooga. The Spaniard created four chances and notched 12 recoveries.
M – Aaron Walker, Greenville Triumph SC: Aaron Walker helped Greenville complete the unthinkable as he converted a penalty in stoppage time that propelled his nine-man side to the unlikeliest of draws in Omaha. Walker also won 9 of 15 duels and earned five recoveries.
F – Khori Bennett, Charlotte Independence: Easily enjoying the most productive season of his career, Bennett increased his goal total to 11 with a brace against Fuego FC on Saturday. Bennett also completed 85% of his passes and 100% of his dribbles.
F – Corey Hertzog, Union Omaha: In 175 minutes of Week 25 action, Omaha’s veteran forward scored once from the penalty spot against Greenville and created four total chances on the week. Hertzog was also tied for second with six fouls won.