Memphis 901 FC returns to the pitch after a week away refreshed and ready to take on Miami FC at AutoZone Park on Saturday.
Memphis, unbeaten in their last seven and winners of the four of their last five matches, are ascending on the league table and primed for a big matchup against Kyle Murphy and a strong Miami side in their second meeting of the season.
The Beale St. Boys current strong run of form originally started in the Sunshine state. After two losses to start the season, Memphis played to a 1-1 draw on the road at Miami and haven’t suffered a regular season loss since.
Miami looks to grab their first three-point result since May 3 with losses to Louisville and San Diego before a scoreless draw with Orange County SC last time out.
Memphis Head Coach Stephen Glass will have a new face available for selection after the club acquired veteran midfielder Rodrigo da Costa. The Brazilian carries over 36 goals and 26 assists in five years of USL competition to bolster the top tier 901 FC attack.
“Having Rodrigo in amongst the group at training this week has been pretty valuable,” Head Coach Stephen Glass said. “He knows the group already, he’s excited to come into the group and I think anytime you get a new player you get a little boost. We’re looking forward to seeing what he gives us on the pitch.
Da Costa joins a strong side with plenty of fellow countrymen such as Bruno Lapa and Luiz Fernando ready to link and create chances.
Saturday’s showdown is set for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. Fans can stream the match live on ESPN+ and watch on WMC Bounce 5.2 locally
“We want three points. We want to make our home a fortress. AutoZone Park needs to be a place where people don’t want to come. Three points is the main focus and we’ll do whatever we need to do.” – Akeem Ward
“The four days off really helped us recharge physically and mentally to get back out there and compete for three points. Rodrigo’s been great. He’s known around the league for being a top-class player. He’s acclimated really well. Our training sessions are really difficult and he’s been doing great. I’m sure our fans are excited to see him on Saturday night.” – Aaron Molloy
“The mindset is the same as it’s been. We go into the game on Saturday night trying to win. We know it’s going to be difficult from last time. We showed some resilience to come back and it was the start of our good run. It’s important that they don’t end the good run so that’s the focus for us.” – Stephen Glass
“They don’t lose a lot of goals, they’re a tough team. They generally play a very similar shape but they’re hard to play against, quick on the counter attack, don’t open too many space. But as always we like to focus on what we do. The players have shown that over the last number of weeks and I know they’re keen to get playing again. The break was nice but I know they also enjoy winning matches.” – Stephen Glass
On the Come Up
After two losses at home to start the season, Memphis 901 FC is undefeated in their last seven USL Championship matches with four wins and three draws and a +7 goal differential. The run is the longest unbeaten streak in club history.
Memphis sits at No. 6 in the Eastern Conference with 15 points and at least two games in hand over each of the top-5 clubs in the table.
Debut for da Costa
Versatile veteran Rodrigo da Costa will be available for selection to make his debut for Memphis in Saturday’s match after the midseason acquisition. The Brazilian has already scored three goals and an assist in 10 matches this season and adds his scoring and distribution to an already strong attack.
With over 10,000 career minutes in five seasons of USL competition, da Costa holds Tulsa’s all-time franchise records with 36 goals and 26 assists making starts in multiple positions from center forward to winger. Da Costa recorded nine goals and four assists in 2022 while appearing in all but one match for FC Tulsa with 30 starts.
The Ultimate Wingman
Winger Luiz Fernando has been a key piece in the seven-match unbeaten streak with four goals and two assists during the club’s run. Fernando put away two goals in the win over Colorado Springs to earn USL Championship Player of the Week after adding game-winning assists vs. Atlanta and Hartford.
The Brazilian winger scored four goals and six assists in 30 appearances in 2022.
Chances on Chances on Chances
Memphis now has two of the top creators in the league in Aaron Molloy and Rodrigo da Costa. Molloy leads the USL Championship in chances created serving as the primary kick taker and captain on the pitch in the absence of Leston Paul due to injury.
Da Costa joins the Beale St. Boys in the midfield trailing on Molloy and Tampa Bay’s Charlie Dennis in chances created this season.
Chances Created Leaderboard:
- Aaron Molloy – 33
- Charlie Dennis – 33
- Rodrigo da Costa – 28
The Kid is Cooking
Nighte Pickering has proven himself to be a dangerous presence near opposition final thirds. Last time out, the 18-year-old striker had his name called into the starting lineup for the second time this season and answered with a goal and an assist to lift Memphis over Tulsa. Pickering has put away two goals and two assists in USL competition and the game-winning goal in the U.S. Open Cup victory over Atlanta United.
Pickering scored two goals in seven appearances in 2022, including a bicycle kick goal on debut, before being called up to the U.S. U-19 Youth National Team in the offseason.
Memphis leads the USL Championship in shots per 90 minutes and expected goals per match. The high powered offense is also top-5 in final third entries.
Shots per 90 Leaderboard:
- Memphis – 15.67
- San Antonio – 14.25
- El Paso – 13.55