On Wednesday, April 5, Birmingham Legion FC of the USL Championship traveled to Tennessee to take on the Chattanooga Red Wolves of USL League One, at CHI Memorial Stadium in East Ridge. After the first half of the game was evenly matched, the visitors from Birmingham broke the game open in the second with three goals to beat the Red Wolves, 4-1. In the club’s third appearance in the US Open Cup, the Legion defeated a professional team for the first time to advance to Round 3 for the third year in a row.
Former US international Juan Agudelo led the way with a pair of goals for Birmingham.
In this match the two squads were trading blows equally throughout the first half, equaling two yellow cards apiece and one shot on goal apiece. That all changed when the Birmingham native Grayson Dupont took a touch up the line and put in a picture-perfect cross in for Agudelo. Agudelo slid to poke the ball between the Red Wolves keeper in the second minute of added time to give Legion a 1-0 lead going into the second half.
In the second half, Legion continued their hot streak with Collin Smith getting his first ever goal for the 3 Sparks in the 46th minute, rocketing a goal to the top left corner.
To put a damper on things, Birmingham went down to 10 men as Dupont was sent off with his second yellow due to a simulation call. For the rest of the match, Legion played down a man, but played like they had the advantage.
In the 68the minute, Birmingham were once again on the attack and Prosper Kasim put in a wonderful cross to Agudelo, who took a touch and fired a goal into the top left to secure his brace with his final touch of the night. The goal gave him six career tallies in tournament play and his first since 2019 with the New England Revolution (MLS).
This goal would not be outshined as Lombardi released a possible goal of the season contender for the Red Wolves in the 79th minute. Lombardi was standing at the top of the box on a corner, and after a deflection off of a Legion head, Lombardi took the ball on the full volley and rifled the ball into the top left, slicing away from the outstretched Birmingham keeper.
Good goal, lads‼️ pic.twitter.com/4a2KLczoDA— Birmingham Legion FC (@bhmlegion) April 6, 2023
The final goal of the night came from first year professional Diba Nwegbo in the 87th minute. Nwegbo bagged his first professional goal with a beautiful knuckle ball from outside the box to beat the Red Wolves keeper. That 4-1 scoreline would be how the match ended in East Ridge, ending the Open Cup run for the 2022 League One finalists.
The win for Birmingham head coach Tom Soehn was the 10th of his coaching career. He moves into fourth place in coaching win percentage (0.714) in the Modern Era (1995-present).