Keanu Marsh-Brown Strikes to Give 901 FC a First Victory of the Season 

The forward capped off what was another dynamic display from Memphis.

It was more than just relief when Keanu Marsh-Brown saw his match-winning shot ripple the net in the second half of 901 FC’s game against St. Louis at AutoZone Park; it was wholly deserved. Memphis had strung together two stellar performances in their prior matches, yet inexplicably walked away with only two draws to show for their efforts. But the first win of the season has been coming, and 901 FC’s 1-0 home win against St. Louis FC is just rewards for a hat-trick of impressive performances.

click to enlarge Keanu Marsh-Brown celebrates after scoring the winner in 901 FC's 1-0 victory over St. Louis. - ERIC GLEMSER
  • Eric Glemser
  • Keanu Marsh-Brown celebrates after scoring the winner in 901 FC's 1-0 victory over St. Louis.

I’ll just get this out of the way now: This is basically the Keanu Marsh-Brown (KMB) edition of my weekly match analysis. Since USL’s return to play, he may be Memphis’ most dynamic and consistent performer, especially in recent matches. If you look back, most of the good things this team produces offensively come through Marsh-Brown. His fleet feet have been possessed of late, quickly shuttling the ball up field, smashing powerful free kicks on frame, bamboozling his opponents, or putting in off-the-ball runs to create space for teammates. He’s the puppet master, with defensive marionettes calamitously dancing along to the tug of his strings. Hyperbole? Maybe, but take a look at the three biggest offensive plays from last weekend’s game. You’ll see a recurring theme.

First, in the 15th minute, my favorite midfielder Duane Muckette hit a nice pass out to Rece Buckmaster on the wing to spread the play. The fullback played a sweeping ball into the box, which found its way to … you guessed it, Marsh-Brown. A St. Louis defender got a little touch on the ball, however, so KMB couldn’t sort his feet out and placed the shot right at the keeper. Even though he didn’t score, it was a great start; right place, right time isn’t always a teachable skill, but putting yourself in a scoring position is half the battle. Also, credit is due for Brandon Allen’s run on the same play. He faked like he was running to the far post, but then quickly darted closer to the near post and just missed getting his foot on the end of Buckmaster’s cross. That, in turn, left Marsh-Brown wide open for his attempt.

Second, and most significant, was the goal. In the 54th minute, Marsh-Brown again arrived at the right spot to seal Memphis’ first victory. This whole play, however, was flawless in its execution. Midfielder Jean-Christophe Koffi had space on the ball and looked up to see fullback Mark Segbers darting in behind St. Louis’ defensive line. His exquisite chipped pass over the top found the defender, who squared for the onrushing Marsh-Brown to smash the ball into the roof of the net. As I tweeted on Saturday, that’s a wonderfully crafted sequence that you might see in Europe’s top leagues. The team obviously hasn’t had its confidence dented by lackluster results.

Immediately after the goal, KMB once again made a big impact, albeit in a more indirect way. Segbers held up the ball just outside the St. Louis box, eyeing three defenders blocking his way. Marsh-Brown looped behind him and darted out to the wing, pulling St. Louis’ Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé with him. That left a slight opening for Segbers, who duly obliged and burst into the 18 to draw a penalty. While Allen’s tame effort was easily saved, it luckily didn’t make a difference on the night.

While the contributions might not have been as all-action as recent matches, Marsh-Brown is currently powering Memphis’ offense. Coach Tim Mulqueen looks to have given him license to work his magic, and it’s paying off. On a night where the opponent keyed in to hinder Allen’s impact, it was important that someone step up to ease the scoring burden.

Defensively, things were once again pretty tight at the back. Tristan Hodge looks to have firmly seized the second centerback berth alongside Zach Carroll, and the pair didn’t allow St. Louis too many good looks at goal, giving Tim Howard a clean sheet. While I predicted St. Louis would play mostly on the counter like in recent weeks, they actually held more possession with 57.7 percent of the ball. But Memphis managed the game well. For the time being, it looks like Mulqueen has settled on his preferred lineup. That should only serve Memphis going well, especially with tougher tests on the horizon.

As it stands, 901 FC is second in Group G on five points, but has played at least one more match than its other group rivals. Up next this weekend is a tough home matchup against North Carolina FC, which has tallied a draw and a win since returning to action.

901 FC returns to action this Saturday, August 8th, at 4 p.m.

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