Birmingham’s legendary Legion Field proudly proclaims “Football Capital of the South” on its facade.
Well, another brand of football took that a step farther a couple of miles away at Protective Stadium in downtown Birmingham.
In front of a record crowd of 12,772 Wednesday night, Birmingham Legion FC captured its biggest win ever when it beat Charlotte FC 1-0 in a Lamar Hunt US Open Cup match.
It was the first time a professional team from Alabama has beaten a first division team in its respective sport.
“It was second to none,” said Legion head coach Tommy Soehn. “We’ve been here five short years and I feel like the game continues to grow and then the city continues to back us up and it was hard not to enjoy that.”
Legion FC is a member of the USL Championship and Charlotte FC is a Major League Soccer franchise.
Think of it like the Birmingham Barons beating the Atlanta Braves or the Huntsville Havoc beating the Nashville Predators.
Legion FC will host Inter Miami of the MLS in the quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, the oldest ongoing soccer tournament in the country. The match is June 7 at 7 p.m. Ticket information will be announced on Legion FC social media channels and the club website.
“I’ll even compliment how into the game [the fans] were,” said Soehn. “I mean, you could tell every play they were on top of it. It was awesome.
“Just a great feeling … gave you chills.”
The game, was a close one from beginning, with both teams failing to score in the first half. That began to shift after Charlotte was forced to play a man down due to an ejection.
Taking full advantage of this, Birmingham’s Proper Kasim, in the game’s 60th minute, delivered the game-winning goal.
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“Tonight was a collective win,” Kasim said. “Everyone was fighting hard and then working very hard. So I feel like I just happened to be the guy to finish.
“It was a collective effort.”
Team captain Phanuel Kavita was thrilled to have the crowd so involved with the game.
“For me [the crowd] was amazing,” said Kavita. “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.”
“To just see the fans in the crowd and everything was incredible.”
Austen Shipley is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News.