Talkin’ Jacks host Ben Goshorn breaks down the Charlotte Independence

Jorge Herrera plays soccer for Charlotte Independence

Forward Jorge Herrera has scored four goals in three games for the Charlotte Independence. / Courtesy of Charlotte Independence

Nashville SC goes up against the Charlotte Independence on Saturday at First Tennessee Park at 7:30 p.m. CT. To prepare for the game we interviewed Ben Goshorn, host of the Charlotte Independence podcast Talkin’ Jacks, about the Eastern Conference leaders.

We asked Goshorn about Charlotte’s potent offense, players to watch out for and key match ups on the pitch.

GG: Charlotte added 15 new players in the offseason, who was the most exciting signing?

Goshorn: Cordell Cato was the most flashy signing of the offseason. He provides top tier speed which is something we’ve never  had in the wide midfielder role. His ability to threaten defenses has been evident already. He’s gelled excellently already in Charlotte’s attacking system.

GG: Charlotte is affiliated with the Colorado Rapids and has four players on loan. How is the affiliation working for developing players?

Goshorn: The Independence and Rapids partnership is one that is mutually beneficial. Typically Colorado will send players that need more time to develop. That or they have an excess of players in that position. I’m a huge fan of the affiliation because it allows Independence fans to see up and coming talent. I think it’s a beautiful thing that I can say I saw Marlon Hairston and others get game time in Charlotte.

GG: Charlotte’s biggest loss in the offseason must be Enzo Martinez who was signed by the Colorado Rapids. Who will replace his production in the midfield this season?

Goshorn: To answer that simply, no one. Really you can’t replace an Enzo Martinez. His production will be reproduced by numerous individuals. Most notably Jorge Herrera will be tasked with providing a similar offensive spark. He’s already done a very good job this season. He has four goals in three games.

GG: After three games, Charlotte is on top of the Eastern Conference table with 7 points. What’s surprised you about this team? What are their strengths and weaknesses?

Goshorn: The teams depth has been a major strength. In previous years that that has been an issue. To begin the season we’ve had a few injuries. Players have stepped up and filled in as needed excellently. If I had to choose a weakness it would be defensive disciple. I think we’ve improved on defense but we have let in a few goals that were defense lapses.

GG: Charlotte has already scored eight goals this season. What’s worked for the Independence’s attack?

Goshorn: The three headed monster of Cordell Cato, Caleb Calvert, and Jorge Herrera. They have been key to a cohesive attack early this season. We’ve also simply capitalized on our opportunities. They are currently second in the entire league and first in the East in conversion rate with 29 percent of their shots being goals.

GG: Forward Jorge Herrera, who scored 12 times last season, already has 4 goals in three games. How important is he to Charlotte and at age 37, do you see any of the younger forwards taking his spot this season?

Goshorn: He is integral in so many ways. His ability to be in the right place and precision in front of net is second to none. The only player I see taking over for him would be Ricardo Pérez, Colorado Rapids players, or Éamon Zayed. Zayed isn’t a young player but once his P-1 visa is approved he’ll be sure to make an impact for Charlotte.

GG: Which players should Nashville fans watch for on Saturday? What individual match ups are you excited to see?

Goshorn: I’m looking for Caleb Calvert to have a bounce back game against Nashville. He’s been excellent I think we’ll see that form continue. I also think Charlotte’s fullbacks, specifically Joel Johnson, will play an important role.

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