PREVIEW: Hartford Athletic Look to Bounce Back in 1st Home Game Since Early April
The Green and Blue will return home after three losses in four consecutive road matches, set to host Memphis 901 FC on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
After yet another late goal saw Hartford Athletic drop all three points in Birmingham last weekend, the Green and Blue will have the home fans behind them for the first time in over a month as they look to bounce back vs. Memphis 901 FC on Saturday.
Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Birmingham Legion marked the second stoppage-time goal that Hartford conceded this season in the space of four weeks. Both game-winners came on the road against the Green and Blue after they held the lead for a large portion of the game. With eight of the 15 goals conceded by Hartford coming in the second half — three of them being game winners — Tab Ramos has reason to believe his team needs to be more “mature” in holding leads and seeing out games.
Even in their only USL Championship win of the season, a 2-1 win in Oakland, Hartford was outshot 10-1 in the second half, possessing only 24% of the ball. The Roots completed 223 passes to Hartford’s 50 in that stretch, and if not for a clear case of mistaken identity, Hartford would have been down to 10 men for the better part of the half as well.
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In Sunday’s loss in Birmingham, it was Hartford who took the lead first, as Jeciel Cedeño’s second USL Championship goal in as many games snuck past the outstretched leg of Trevor Spangenburg into the bottom right corner in the 38th minute. Cedeño’s second goal of the season, along with an assist in the month of April was enough for him to earn Hartford Athletic Player of the Month Honors.
Hartford would re-take the lead in the second half just minutes after conceding an equalizer in the 65th minute, as Prince Saydee split the Legion defense, connecting with Kyle Edwards who tucked the ball into the bottom left corner.
Despite not trailing for all but two minutes of regulation, the effort would not be enough for Hartford, who conceded two goals in the final 10 minutes — including a stoppage-time winner — to send them home empty-handed.
Despite the result, one positive spot for Hartford continued to be Prince Saydee, who picked up an assist and was inches away from scoring a free kick in the first half. The performance saw him make a return to the USL Championship’s Team of the Week.
Ultimately, the road stretch was not one Hartford fans will be looking to remember any time soon. The Green and Blue came out with just one win in four matches, and find themselves sitting in 11th in the Eastern Conference on just five points — just one point above last-placed Detroit City FC.
However, a return home against a Memphis side who are also looking up from outside the playoff places represents an opportunity for Hartford to pick up some much-needed points at home.
Despite being unbeaten in their last three matches (2-1-0) including an upset U.S. Open Cup third-round win over Major League Soccer side Atlanta United, Memphis find themselves sitting only two places above Hartford on six points. Two of their opening three fixtures of 2023 were either canceled or postponed and since then they’ve compiled a 1-3-2 record — with their only win of the season coming in a dominant 3-0 win against Rio Grande Valley FC on April 22.
Last time out for Memphis, they fought to a 1-1 draw vs. third-place Lousiville City. Despite conceding in the eighth minute off of a corner kick, Memphis would fight their way back in the 51st minute, as Luiz Fernando redirected a goalmouth clearance on frame with his back to goal, finding the roof of the net for his second goal of the season.
Phillip Goodrum would find the back of the net once again for the home side just 16 minutes later, in the 68th minute, but the goal was controversially called back for offsides as the two sides would go on to split the points in a 1-1 draw.
With FC Tulsa currently occupying the last playoff spot in the east on seven points going into the match day, both Hartford and Memphis have a chance to make a jump up the table and claim the last spot with a win tonight.
Kickoff in this crucial Eastern Conference battle is set for 7:30 p.m. on WCTX MyTV9 and ESPN+.