WHO: Charlotte Independence. Finished juuuust outside the playoffs last season. 1-1 against Louisville City, including City’s first ever loss at some pop-up stadium in the southern North Carolina area last season.
WHAT: THE FIRST MATCH OF THE 2016 SEASON! THIS IS SO EXCITING!
WHEN: 7:00 P.M. EST
WHERE: We’re like 75% sure this one’s gonna be at Ramblewood Soccer Complex, which is in a public park somewhere near Charlotte. This is an improvement because you know where the game will be for (almost) sure! But you can’t buy beer on the premises, they have some complex system of shuttles or something to get you to and from the stadium, certain people can park there but other can’t…it’s complicated. Lucky for you, if you’re making the trip, you’re a seasoned Churchill Downs infield veteran capable of hiding contraband in places that the police would rather not look.
WATCH: At Against the Grain! They have great beer! And barbecue! And other stuff if you’re not into those things! You should go there! But if you can’t because your wife scheduled a dinner date with your sister and her boyfriend without asking you, you can peep the game on YouTube here:
WHO, AGAIN? We just spent a whole month previewing the entire Eastern Conference, but if we must, we’ll send you to this here link to Will Phillips’s article on the Mecklenburg Raiders. Charlotte was a good team last year that couldn’t seem to put it together until the end of the season. They’ve lost some pretty important players in Paolo DelPiccolo and Colorado Rapids loanee Marlon Hairston, but they’re still pretty solid in the back and in midfield with the Martinez brothers and Jorge Hererra. The Independence also signed a striker with a proven goalscoring record in David Estrada. Their biggest unknown spot, though, is an important one: goalkeeper. Cody Mizell is listed at their Number One, but he’s a relative unknown quantity, not having had regular playing time for a couple of years after spending some time in the NASL and in Iceland. LET’S MAKE HIM NERVOUS.
BOLD AND WHOLLY UNINFORMED PREDICTIONS: I have to think that City has a slightly ill taste in their mouths after dropping their first ever game in Charlotte last season. That, and we know City wants to start off on the right foot. We don’t really know what kind of lineup or formation or assignments James O’Connor’s gonna start with, but we can be fairly certain they won’t be afraid to press the play, stay on the front foot, and try to pick up a win on the road. I say 0-2 to Louisville City.
COME ON, CITY