After their previous match was postponed due to weather conditions, Hartford Atheltic had another week to rest and reflect on their losing streak. With the season in its home stretch, Hartford is now in a position where they have to win virtually every game left in their season to qualify for the playoffs. With their players who were out due to COVID-19 back on the roster, Hartford now has an opportunity to secure a crucial win.
The Athletic wasted no time to pressure Memphis’ defense. In the third minute, Elvis Amoh made a shot on goal but was ruled offside. Immediately following the play, Hartford’s impressive passing got them through the Memphis defense and an open shot was attempted by Prince Saydee. However, Memphis defender Akeem Wardn miraculously deflected it. The Athletic were off to a good start, but things quickly turned against them after Memphis was rewarded a penalty in the 17th minute. The tides of the game shifted quickly, however, as Hartford equalized in the 26th minute through a shot in the middle of the box from Saydee. It did not take long for the game to advantage the Atheltic as Saydee secured a brace after the Memphis goalkeeper mistakenly passed the ball back to him. The veteran forward took the shot and secured a lead of 2-1.
Entering the second half, Hartford now had the task of sustaining a lead. Given their prior performances, this is easier said than done and it didn’t take long for the Athletic to lose control of the game after Samuel Careaga tapped in the ball from an assist by Aiden McFadden. Memphis had to answer to their first-half mistakes and they did through a strong offensive effort that resulted in Memphis controlling possession of the ball.
Now leveled, Hartford desperately needed a goal to reestablish their lead and earn the crucial three points they needed to remain in contention for the playoffs. But, the Athletic’s form did not reflect a team looking to pull things back in their favor. Memphis absolutely detangled Hartford’s defense and sought many opportunities that nearly resulted in goals. This is apparent in the final statistics of the game, with Memphis having nearly 60% possession of the ball. Memphis took advantage of a disorganized Hartford defense and took the lead in the 73rd minute through a shot out of the penalty area by Luiz Fernando. Minutes later, a shot by Careaga hit the crossbar. Memphis’ domination continued when a free kick extended their lead 4-2. Rodrigo de Costa took the ball and shot over the Hartford wall and goalkeeper.
In Hartford fashion, they failed to keep their momentum in the latter half of each game. Promising plays and a coordinated offense all fell apart, and the opposing team took advantage by outshooting them. Memphis attempted 26 shots, while the Atheltic only had seven. Due to this loss, Hartford is now firmly out of playoff contention. With six games left on their schedule, Hartford will seek to finish off strong and try to reinvite themselves now that the pressure for playoff qualification is out of the question. The Atheltic certainly has the potential to do so. They have scored 35 goals this season, which is more than four teams currently above them in the standings. However, Hartford’s real problem comes from the goals they allow, which always results in them losing a lead. This season alone, they have conceded 64 goals, the most in the entire league. As the Athletic looks ahead, their defense continues to be a critical issue, and they’ll continue their season with another away game on Saturday against Detroit City FC.