The Beale Street Boys hit the road this week with a simple motivation and objective: win and you’re in.
A victory over rival Birmingham in their matchup on Wednesday guarantees Memphis a spot in the USL Championship Playoffs for the third consecutive year.
A win at Protective Stadium, however, has never been an easy task in the rivalry’s storied history. Memphis has come away with three points once in seven matches at Birmingham, but 901 FC Head Coach Stephen Glass said he’s excited about the group’s form heading into a tough stretch of matches.
“The biggest thing is there’s a group that’s very hungry. Everyone recently has contributed,” Glass said. “I think everybody’s contributed over these last three games. It’s a competitive group to see who plays. Coming up we’ve got Birmingham away and Tampa away. Then we’ll start to really think about playoffs.”
Memphis will be looking for revenge as Birmingham took the first of three battles this year with a 3-0 victory in the U.S. Open Cup Round of 32 to knock Memphis out of the competition.
Memphis 901 FC will look to continue their strong attacking momentum by getting Rodrigo Da Costa and Luiz Fernando loose past the tough Birmingham back line. Both forwards found the back of the net with spectacular goals in the club’s 4-2 victory over Hartford last time out.
Along with Aaron Molloy and Jeremy Kelly, 901 FC has a chance to deploy new Argentine midfielder Samuel Careaga, who tallied his first goal on three shots after coming in at halftime in his second appearance for Memphis on Saturday.
“He was brilliant,” Glass said. “We’ve worked a lot this week on getting in the box late, on crosses and deliveries. Samuel was magnificent when he came on. His use of the ball, his energy was good and he told me he could’ve scored three goals. He’s disappointed with one.”
In balance is not only a playoff spot, but a chance to host the first round of the postseason with both clubs fighting to climb to the top four in the Eastern Conference.
Fans can watch the midweek matchup on ESPN+ streaming nationally and WMC Bounce 5.2 locally.