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Key Battles, BHMvCHS

By Evan Peters, 10/02/19, 10:00AM EDT


Prosper Kasim v. Tah Brian Anunga - JJ Williams is Birmingham's top goalscorer, but with the Columbus Crew loanee uncertain to feature, the Legion will look to midfielder Prosper Kasim to lead the charge. Tah Brian Anunga patrols the midfield for Charleston and is a disruptive box-to-box midfielder who could make things difficult for the crafty Birmingham midfielder. 

Prosper played a full ninety against the Battery on June 8th finishing with two shots, tied for the team-high. Prosper played a part in Birmingham's goal against the Battery sending in a dangerous cross that was headed on by Brian Wright into the path of Mikey Lopez who tucked it home past Joe Kuzminsky. The Ghana international leads the Legion in shot attempts (50), created chances (47), and most recently found the back of the net against Atlanta United 2 in a 5-0 road win.

In his third season with the club, Anunga continues to be the heart and soul of the Battery midfield. Anunga has chipped in on the offensive side of things lately, scoring the opening goal in Charleston's 2-1 win against North Carolina FC and turning a failed clearance into an eventual winner against New York Red Bulls II. Anunga leads the team in tackles (73) and is second in interceptions (41).

The Bottom Line: If Anunga and the Battery get off to a quick start, Prosper may have a difficult time breaking down a very strong Charleston side.

Matt van Oekel v. Joe Kuzminsky - The two number one goalkeepers will have no problem getting up for this one, and could be the major players in determining the final result of this important match. 

Van Oekel has produced ten shutout performances this season and is a big reason why the Legion are in the playoff conversation. His shutout total is tied for 5th best in the league with Tampa Bay's John McCarthy and above Indy Eleven's Evan Newton. van Oekel was between the sticks for every match of Birmingham's six-game run in July that saw the Legion play to a 5-0-1 record and six straight shutouts.   

Kuzminsky enters the contest with 80 saves, good for fifth-best in the USL Championship. Kuzminsky surpassed his 2018 season total of 63 and has been red hot since the end of August. The keeper went three straight matches without conceeding a goal earlier this month and saved a Jarad Stroud penalty against Red Bulls II on Friday night. He's allowed five goals in his last six starts and has the quality to make a big save highlighted by his save against Hartford Athletic in July.

The Bottom Line: In a match where both teams need three points, van Oekel and Kuzminsky will need to be at their very best.

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