Caleb Calvert came off the bench and scored within three minutes for Charlotte Independence, but it was not enough to prevent the Rapids’ USL affiliate from slipping to a fourth straight loss as they were defeated 2-1 by Eastern Conference leaders Louisville City FC on Saturday.
Louisville took the lead in the 57th minute through George Davis IV. Calvert stepped into the game six minutes later, and instantly made an impact, scoring off an assist by Jaime Siaj. It was his first goal in USL this season. The home team extended their advantage at the top of the standings when Kyle Smith netted the game winner 13 minutes from time.
The Independence, without a win in five, are fourth in the standings with one game remaining. They host second-placed Charleston Battery on Saturday, by which time they may have fallen to fifth in the table. Rochester Rhinos, one point and one place behind, play their game in hand at home to Bethlehem Steel on Tuesday.
Going into Saturday’s game, the Independence are three points behind Charleston. A win alone would not be enough to lift them above the Battery. They need a big win in order to achieve a sizable swing in goal differential.
Rookie midfielder Sam Hamilton played in both recent successes for Phoenix Rising FC. He came in as a late substitute last Wednesday in a 4-3 home win over Tulsa Roughnecks, in which Didier Drogba scored twice for Phoenix.
Hamilton then went the distance on Saturday as Rising FC defeated Rio Grande Valley FC 2-0, with Jason Johnson on target for the third time in two games.
Phoenix Rising FC conclude their regular season this Saturday, with a home game against bottom side Portland Timbers 2. They lie fifth in the Western Conference, level on points with Swope Park Rangers (fourth) and a point behind San Antonio FC who do, though, have a game in hand.