Memphis, Tenn. – After almost a month away from home, Memphis 901 FC returns to AutoZone Park on Saturday, April 15 with an opportunity to march into the win column against Las Vegas Lights FC.
A well rested 901 FC side looks to gather some early season momentum in the 2023 edition of the King’s Cup derby after a 1-1 draw with Miami FC on April 1 and a second round Open Cup victory over One Knoxville SC last Tuesday.
Memphis advanced to the third round of the Open Cup using a last-minute goal from Jeremy Kelly in extra time at Regal Soccer Stadium in Knoxville.
The Beale St. Boys return to their home turf with a new look, especially at the back of the formation, with Bill Hamid between the posts and Rece Buckmaster returning from a quad injury.
Las Vegas carries their own momentum into the week six matchup after a 4-0 win over NISL side LA Force in the second round of the U.S. Open Cup featuring two scores from midfielder Azriel Gonzalez.
Lights FC holds a 0-0-3 record in the USL Championship with draws against Rio Grande Valley, Orange County, and Indy Eleven.
Memphis captured 1-0 victory in last year’s King’s Cup clash with Laurent Kissiedou putting Jeremy Kelly through for a left-footed chip over the keeper in the 51st minute.
“It starts with getting a zero on the defensive end, getting the shutout and giving our offense the best chance to win the game. We just want to make sure we’re really tight in the back and we don’t give up anything early and nothing easy. It’s a couple of set piece goals that we’ve given up in the past so we’re going to try to lock down as well.” – Carson Vom Steeg
“We’ve really been focusing on finishing, getting to the attacking third and creating chances. The intensity is there… Moving forward, we want to make (AutoZone Park) a fortress and get those three points this weekend.” – Dylan Borczak
“The group kept a good mentality. We can see some good things to build on. We tightened up defensively and got our really talented attacking players in good spots. If we continue to do that, goals will go in. You see it everyday at training. Guys are competing and training at a really high level. To see that translate into a match gives everybody a lot of confidence.” – Graham Smith
Beast in the East
Saturday’s matchup will be Memphis 901 FC’s first interconference match of the 2023 season. 901 FC was undefeated against Western Conference Teams in 2022 with a 6-0-2 record on its way to the best regular season in club history. 901 FC was the only club in the USL Championship to post an undefeated record in interconference play.
The 100 Club
Midfielder Sebastian Velasquez passed the 100 mark for USL Championship regular season appearances in the draw vs. Miami FC on April 1. Defender Graham Smith can join the 100 club with an appearance in this Saturday’s match. The 2022 All-League Second Team center back scored five goals and led the team with 142 clearances last season.
Former USMNT and MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Bill Hamid will be commanding the defense at AutoZone Park for the first time since signing with the club. In two starts, the keeper has stopped four of six shots on goal and was nominated for USLC Save of the Week for week four.