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Match Recap: Penn FC 2 - Charlotte Independence 2

Penn FC goes down early but scores twice to earn a draw

Penn FC

Both Penn FC and Charlotte Independence came into Wednesday’s match needing a win, so in retrospect it should have been obvious that they would draw. But while the result was less than desirable, Penn FC showed plenty of heart to come back and equalize after going down two goals early. That amount of determination is what they’ve struggled to find at different points this season.

With a bit of rest after the first six matches of The Homestretch, Penn FC was able to put out what amounts to their best available XI at this point in the season. Tommy Heinemann and Ken Tribbett are most likely shut down, but Dan Metzger is back in the starting lineup and top scorer Lucky Mkosana has players like Aaron Dennis and Paulo Jr. on the field to draw attention away from him and give him more space to work with.

Penn FC had the better looks at the start of the match and Charlotte’s goalkeeper (and former City Islander) Brandon Miller was forced to make his first save in just the seventh minute. Unfortunately for them, things went off the rails just a short time later.

In the 17th minute, Eamon Zayed flicked on a ball for Derek Gebhard that slipped behind the entire Penn FC defense. Romu Peiser came well off his line to make a sliding save, but the rebound fell to Zayed who simply lobbed it into the open net from about thirty-five yards out. Despite being on the attacking foot for most of the match, Penn FC was behind 1-0.

Things didn’t improve for Penn FC as a second error lead to another open goal for Zayed in the 28th minute. This time, Charlotte slipped a through ball to Gebhard up the left side and Peiser tried to come out and take the ball off the foot of the Charlotte attacker. Instead, Gebhard was able to slip it across to Zayed in front of the net (will some help from a Jorge Herrera screen) and Zayed had an open shot to earn his brace.

Penn FC was down two early, much like they were against Louisville. While that match didn’t turn out well, Penn FC was finally able to make good on their attacks from early in the first half.

It looked like things were about to get worse for Penn FC when Dan Metzger banged knees with a Charlotte player and he was forced to come off for Miguel Jaime in the 36th minute. But on the ensuing free kick, when Penn FC had ten men, Richie Menjivar curled a perfect ball for Kyle Venter who buried it in the upper ninety to pull one back for Penn FC. It was Menjivar’s team leading seventh assist of the season, and he wasn’t done yet.

Penn FC rode the momentum from their goal to equalize just a few minutes later. Menjivar had the ball once again on the right side, although this wasn’t a set piece situation. He sent in a cross for Lucky Mkosana, who had three Charlotte defenders in the area. That didn’t stop him and he was able to head the ball in for his eleventh of the season (just his second off of a header) and equalize the score at two just before the half.

With such a wild and crazy first half, everyone was expecting the second half to turn into a shootout. Unfortunately it just... didn’t. There was no single reason for it as both sides kept up the pressure. But Charlotte only managed four shots during the half (just one on goal) and none of Penn FC’s nine shots (two on goal) could find the back of the net.

Part of that is that Brandon Miller started standing on his head during the second half. Several times, Paulo Jr. was able to dribble a ball into the box or look like he had a good shot from a tight angle, but every time Miller was there to make the save or cur off his angle to make him try to pass the ball away. A few other times there would be a loose ball in the box, but during the scramble to get a shot off, the Penn FC player couldn’t keep the ball down and sent it harmlessly into the stands.

Charlotte had more to play for (Penn FC was basically eliminated from the playoffs before the match started) but they didn’t display much urgency during the second half. It seemed like giving up the two goal lead took much of the fight out of the Independence. At the end, it was Mkosana who nearly found a winner at the death, but Miller was once again there to make the save. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway as he was whistled for a foul, followed by the final whistle to end the match.


  1. Menjivar now has eight assists for the season, which is good enough to tie for tenth in the USL for 2018. He’s also tied for the fifth most assists in the Eastern conference.
  2. Lucky Mkosana just turned 31 at the end of September. He celebrated appropriately, because his goal during the match was coincidentally his 31st career goal for Harrisburg/Penn.