EAST HARTFORD, May 5 – The Hartford Athletic pro soccer team finally made their way back to Connecticut on Saturday night. The Athletic played their first-ever United Soccer League home game against the Charlotte Independence and battled to a 1-1 tie at Rentschler Field before an announced crowd of 11,346 fans.
Hartford technically still isn’t home yet. Renovations continue at their permanent home of Dillon Stadium but the Athletic were thrilled to be back in Connecticut after a winless eight-game road trip to begin their first season in the USL, a Division II league that is one step below Major League Soccer.
The Athletic are Connecticut’s first Division II level team since the Connecticut Wolves played five seasons in the old A League from 1997-2001 out of Veteran’s Memorial Stadium in New Britain.
Hartford earned their first points of the season with the tie. The Athletic have struggled to score in their first eight games, putting just four goals in the net while giving up a league-high 22 goals.
Charlotte (1-5-3) took an early 1-0 lead in the third minute when Dominic Oduro got in back of the Hartford defense and dropped a ball off for the trailing Adoulie Mansally, who scored in just the third minute of the game.
— USL Championship (@USLChampionship) May 5, 2019
But Hartford answered quickly. Raymond Lee played a beautiful ball down into the penalty box and Hartford’s Mac Steeves chipped the ball over on-rushing Charlotte goalie Curtis Anderson to tie the game with 10 minutes gone.
Steeves, a 6-foot-4 forward from Needham, Mass., played four years at Providence College scoring 35 goals. It was Steeves’ first goal in 11 USL contests. He played three games with Houston affiliate Rio Grande Valley a year ago.
Hartford had a few changes in the second half but Anderson, who was named USL goalie of the week for his excellent play a week ago, was up to the task. Hartford’s Alex Dixon had a great shot from outside the box but Anderson made a great diving save.
Minutes later, Steeves had another outstanding scoring opportunity that Anderson just tipped over the cross bar. Anderson finished with two saves.
Hartford returns to Rentschler Field on Friday night when they host Memphis 901 at 7 p.m.
Hartford 1, Charlotte 1
At East Hartford
Charlotte (1-5-3) 1 0 — 1
Hartford (0-8-1) 1 0 — 1
Goals: C: Abdoulie Mansally 3 (Dominic Oduro); H: Mac Steeves 12 (Raymond Lee); Shots: Hartford, 11-8; Shots on target: Hartford, 3-1; Corner kicks: Hartford, 5-4; Fouls: Charlotte, 12-6; Saves: Jacob Lissek (H) 0, Curtis Anderson (C) 2
Hartford — Jacob Lissek; Raymond Lee, Sem de Wit, Philip Rasmussen, Harry Swartz (Giuseppe Gentile 77′); Sebastian Dalgaard, Collin Martin, Nicky Downs, Jonny Brown; Mac Steeves (Jose Angulo 64′), Alex Dixon (Wojciech Wojcik 80′)
Charlotte — Curtis Anderson; Hugh Roberts, Steven Thicot, Andrew Gutman, Joel Johnson; Michael Maria, Alex Martinez (Enzo Martinez 73′), Afrim Taku; Dominic Oduro, Jorge Herrera, Abdoulie Mansally (Zyen Jones, 76′).
|USL Eastern Conference||W-L-T||Pts|
|New York Red Bulls II||6-1-1||19|
|Saint Louis FC||5-1-2||17|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||4-0-5||17|
|North Carolina FC||4-1-3||15|
|Louisville City FC||4-3-1||13|
|Atlanta United II||3-5-1||10|
|Swope Park Rangers||0-4-2||2|
Three points for a win, one point for a tie. Top 10 teams earn a berth in the USL playoffs.
Friday, May 10: Memphis at Hartford (Renthschler Field), 7 p.m.
Sunday, May 19: at Louden United (Audi Field, Washington, D.C.), 2 p.m.