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Talking Points - Week 10

By ETHAN TRIEBSCH -, 05/24/23, 2:15PM EDT


Knoxville, Northern Colorado, Central Valley and Charlotte solid in Week 10

Knoxville earn six points out of six, North Carolina and Richmond win one and lose one, the Hailstorm continue to heat up, and 11 goals found the back of the net in Chattanooga and Fresno.

Here are the biggest takeaways from each Week 10 League One match.

1. Knoxville Surge up the Table

One Knoxville SC (4-3-2, 3rd) is enjoying its first win streak as a professional club and has now lost just since in its last six contests thanks to a big, six-point Week 10 consisting of victories over Chattanooga Red Wolves SC (2-4-2, 10th) and Greenville Triumph SC (3-5-1, 7th).

Knoxville kicked off Week 10 with a shutout victory over its Smoky Mountain Smackdown rivals, Chattanooga, before coming back from a one-goal hole on the road to take down Greenville. An early candidate for Goal of the Season, Sebastian Andreassen's scorpion kick - his first professional goal, no less - proved to be the match-winning score.

"We're really pleased with the performance versus Chattanooga," Knoxville Head Coach Mark McKeever said. Three points and a clean sheet is a step in the right direction for the team. Hopefully, we can continue to make progress in all areas of the game but this was a very pleasing three points after a very good performance!"

"It felt amazing to get on the scoresheet and more importantly get the win," Knoxville's Sebastian Andreassen said. "I'm very happy to be able to help this team bring home three points in a tough match away from home. Everyone was working incredibly hard and I'm very happy I can contribute with a goal for these guys."

2. North Carolina, Richmond go 1-1-0 on the week

After North Carolina FC (6-3-1, 1st) pulled off its biggest comeback win since joining League One over the Richmond Kickers (3-2-4, 4th) on Wednesday, both sides experienced opposite results on Saturday with Richmond downing Lexington SC (2-5-1, 11th) and North Carolina falling to the Charlotte Independence (4-2-4, 2nd) in the Dogwood Derby. 

Richmond raced out to a 2-0 lead on Saturday before a flurry of North Carolina FC chances found the back of the net. NCFC's three goals in 14 minutes between the 62nd and 76th minutes proved enough to topple the Kickers. North Carolina FC's victory marked the first time a team that finished in last place has defeated the Players' Shield winner in the subsequent season in league history and pushed the club's record to 3-71-3 when trailing 2-0.

"Obviously, it was a tremendous comeback, being down 2-0 in the second half," NCFC Head Coach John Bradford said. "The message at halftime was to just stay the course. We made some mistakes with those goals in the first half but we knew the opportunities would come and just needed to get that first goal. Then the second goes in and you would almost be satisfied with a tie but then you look up and it’s 3-2 and [McLaughlin] gets his first goal of the year as well."

On Saturday, though, NCFC got a taste of its own medicine as Charlotte overcame a one-goal deficit to win 2-1, taking a lead in the all-time series dating back to 2015 at 8-7-2. The win also exemplifies Charlotte's recent dominance over its in-state foe, going 7-1-1 in the pair's last nine meetings and remaining perfect against NCFC at American Legion Memorial Stadium since 2019.

"I thought even though we conceded early in the second half, we were good and we showed good character coming back from conceding the first goal to get a result," Charlotte Independence Head Coach Mike Jeffries said.

300 miles away, Richmond bounced back from its Wednesday loss to NCFC with a strong 2-1 victory over expansion side Lexington in front of a packed City Stadium. Leading his side to victory, first-year Kicker João Gomiero secured his third goal of the week to earn Player of the Week honors.

"It felt amazing because I felt we've had really good games at home and it was frustrating to go a couple of games without scoring," Gomiero said following the win over Lexington. "It was such a big game for us coming back from two games on the road and scoring the second goal which opened up the lead. With so many people in the stadium, so many familiar faces, it was just a great feeling. It feels amazing to be a part of history now."

3. Hailstorm heating up

While only playing a league-low six matches thus far, Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC (3-1-2, 6th) has continued its impressive production with a shutout victory on the road over Forward Madison FC (2-1-4, 8th), ending the 'Mingos' club-record unbeaten streak to start the season.

Now second in the Golden Boot race, Northern Colorado's native talisman, Trevor Amann, secured the two-goal victory over the then-unbeaten 'Mingos with his league-leading second brace of the season.

"I’m feeling more confident," Amann said. "I play with some amazing teammates and we all know each other a lot better this year. I’m just a striker in form at the moment."

For Madison, the League One original's club-record unbeaten streak to start the season will end at six. Matt Glaeser's side will surely be confident in their abilities to start a new streak, though, as their next three opponents all sit below them in the table.

"We know our identity and what we’re capable of," FMFC defender Stephen Payne said. "We made some mistakes tonight, but we have to look at the positives of what we’ve done before this season. We just need to get back to what we know best and find more ways to score and put pressure on the opponent."

4. Goals galore in Chattanooga, Fresno

Two of the highest-scoring matches of the season rounded out Saturday evening's action, as Chattanooga Red Wolves SC (2-4-2, 10th) pushed Union Omaha (2-1-4, 9th) to the brink with a thrilling 3-3 draw - the highest-scoring match of the season - before Central Valley Fuego FC (2-5-1, 12th) snapped both its scoreless and winless streaks in a big way with a victory over the defending champions, South Georgia Tormenta FC (4-5-0, 5th).

The Red Wolves, down 2-1 after 70 minutes and facing the prospect of a third consecutive defeat, flipped the script late, outscoring Omaha 2-1 in the final 18 minutes of the match. An Alex Tejera goal in three minutes into second-half stoppage time brought the Red Wolves level, but a massive penalty decision awarded to the hosts in the 10th minute of stoppage time saw Walter Varela step to the spot with a chance to secure all three unlikely points. Omaha's Nuhu - clutch as ever - came up huge to deny the go-ahead goal and preserve a point on the road. Adding another point to their league-leading tally, seven of the Red Wolves' eight points this season have been gained from losing positions.

"I think some guys really stepped up in the second half, and that was a really good thing for this club," Chattanooga Head Coach Ziggy Korytoski said. "It became such an emotional game; I thought that we found pockets well, and we were much more intelligent in the second half and braver in terms of getting after guys. This result just goes to show what this club’s capable of doing."

"Disappointing to just come away with a point, but Rashid [Nuhu] obviously came up big in the last minute with a huge penalty save," Union Omaha Head Coach Dominic Casciato said. "We had an opportunity early in the second half to kill the game off, which we didn’t take."

As the drama concluded in Chattanooga, Central Valley and South Georgia squared off on the opposite end of the country in a match that looked to favor the visiting Ibises. However, Fuego FC finally enjoyed a breakthrough, snapping a four-match losing streak and the second-longest scoreless streak in league history with a massive 3-2 victory over the defending champs. The back-and-forth contest saw each side alternate goals with the hosts finding the back of the net last through a Zahir Vasquez stoppage-time winner.

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