David beats Goliath—Birmingham Legion FC makes history slaying Charlotte FC  [PHOTOS]

Birmingham Legion vs Charlotte
Goal by Prosper Kasim! Birmingham vs Charlotte – May 24,2023 (Bham Now)

It was billed as the biggest game in Alabama soccer history.

Major League Soccer vs. USL Championship.

A First in Alabama

Legion enters the field
Birmingham vs Charlotte – May 24,2023 (Bham Now)

Last night’s game between Birmingham Legion FC and Charlotte FC was the first time ever an Alabama professional sports franchise played a team from the top league in its sport that meant something.

Yes, the Barons played the likes of Babe Ruth and the barnstorming Yankees at Rickwood. The New York Jets took on the Buffalo Bills in a 1970s Legion Field preseason game. Just a few years ago, Legion FC hosted Atlanta United. But those games were exhibitions; they didn’t count. 

This game did. It was the Sweet 16 of the 110 year-old U.S. Open Cup—U.S. Soccer’s version of England’s FA Cup. A tournament that gives the Davids a chance to play the Goliaths. 

In front of a record crowd of 12,722 soccer-mad fans at Protective Stadium, the Three Sparks slayed the MLS team from the Queen City 1-0.

By the way, someone needs to notify the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame across the street from Protective they should make room for some Legion FC memorabilia. 

Alabama sports history was made on May 24, 2023.

The Game

A close, tight game—Charlotte FC dominated possession of the ball for most of the 1st half. Thanks to a save by Legion goalkeeper Trevor Spangenburg that he saved off his own deflection near the goal line, the two teams went to the dressing room 0-0.

In the second half, Legion FCs fortunes changed, when for the second time during the match, Charlotte’s Adilson Malanda was given a yellow card in the 50th minute for fouling Birmingham winger Tyler Pasher, who blew past the defender. The subsequent red card changed the entire game—the Legion in their red kits smelled blood and took full advantage with the extra man, pressing forward and attacking.

History Strikes

By the 60th minute, they finally cracked the Charlotte defense. Prosper Kasim, the player that scored Legion’s first goal ever away and at home in 2019, struck a low left footed 20-yard “carpet-burner” past the lanky Charlotte goalie.

The crowd erupted. The supporter groups—Magic City Brigade and Elyton Ultras then serenaded Prosper with a chant to the tune of “Camptown Races.”

“Who scored Legion’s first ever goal? Prosper, Prosper

Who scored Legion’s first ever goal? Prosper Kasim

Prosper Kasim! Prosper Kasim!

Who scored Legion’s first ever goal? Prosper Kasim”

Legion Brigade
Supporters Section – Birmingham vs Charlotte – May 24,2023 (Bham Now)

Here was the reaction on Twitter:

Legion FC held on for the next 30 minutes. They did not let up, putting their foot on the gas, creating several opportunities in front of Charlotte’s goal. Other than a last minute dangerous cross, Charlotte was kept  pretty far away from Legion’s goalmouth.

Legion FC
Birmingham vs Charlotte – May 24,2023 (Bham Now)

Crowd was a Difference-Maker

Protective Stadium Crowd
Birmingham vs Charlotte – May 24,2023 (Bham Now)

“For me [the crowd] was amazing. I think especially when we scored, you can tell how loud it was, and coming out at halftime I got excited, because when you’re walking out you just hear a bunch of fans in there, and it’s nice because it gives us confidence and gives us joy and excitement to be playing in front of that many people. So, it’s always fun, and hopefully we can get more fans to come out because I think that allows us to blow up the city and have more people come out and enjoy.”

Birmingham Legion Captain Phanuel Kavita

Next Game – David Beckham’s Team

Who is the Legion’s next opponent for the quarterfinals at Protective?

Another MLS team — Inter Miami. Their owner… the legendary David Beckham. 

 
Can Legion FC do it again? We’ll all find out on June 6 or 7.  We’ll know the date soon. Visit Legion FC’s website for the date, time and ticket details.

Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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