- Saturday, 30 June 2012
- Written by Modou Lamin Beyai
Ebrima “EJ” Jatta’s Los Angeles Blues fell 3-2 to hosts Charlotte Eagles on Thursday night at Charlotte Christian Stadium as Mauricio Salles, Christian Meza and Jorge Herrera each scored to move their side within three points of the sixth and final playoff position in the USL PRO standings.
Ebrima Jatta came in as a second-half substitute and Bright Dike scored a brace for the Blues, giving him six tallies in seven games since joining the club. The last five Blues goals have all been scored by the on-loan Portland Timbers man.
In hot conditions that at times approached 100 degrees early in the contest, both teams began slowly. The Eagles had the first chance of the night as they picked up consecutive corner kicks in the 12th minute, but the Blues were able to handle both opportunities without any trouble.
The hosts subsequently continued to control possession in the midfield and were able to put pressure on the Blues defense, which paid off in the 29th minute, Miguel Ferrer driving into the penalty area and drawing a handball to earn a penalty kick for his team. Salles made quick work of the chance, beating Blues goalkeeper José Miranda to put the Eagles up 1-0.Charlotte would double its lead three minutes later, as Darren Toby flicked a pass through for Meza, who was able to slide his shot into the back of the net.
The visitors from Southern California came close to pulling one back in the 42nd minute when they were awarded a free-kick just outside the penalty area, but they were unable to take advantage of a deep-lying Eagles defense as Charlotte maintained its two-goal advantage at the break.
Blues Head Coach Charlie Naimo introduced four new players [including Ebrima Jatta] to open the second half, and their presence was felt immediately. With the team exhibiting a much more aggressive style, the strike partnership of Dike and Brian Farber began causing problems for the Eagles back line, and Dike would get his first of the game just before the hour-mark.
The 24-year-old model athlete muscled his way past the back four and fired just past Reed, bringing the Blues within one. With fatigue starting to set in, both sides started playing more directly, and the game continued to open up. The Blues kept pressing for an equalizer, but it was the Eagles who would strike with three minutes to go.
Nate Thornton’s cross into the penalty area was touched on by Darryl Roberts for Herrera, who found the back of the net to put his side up by two. The Blues responded immediately, with Dike completing his brace a mere minute later.
The visitors would throw everything forward after the goal, but they were unable to find an equalizer in the three minutes of stoppage time, with Charlotte holding on for an important three points.
EJ’s Blues face a quick turnaround, as they will try to regroup ahead of Saturday’s road clash with the Wilmington Hammerheads.