By Clayton Humphries
Legion FC’s #1 earned Player of the Week honors after recording shutout, assist in win vs. Memphis, left back Ryan James also claimed spot on Team of the Week
The USL Championship announced the Team of the Week Presented by Cleer Audio for Week 4 of the 2021 regular season on Tuesday, with Birmingham Legion FC’s Matt VanOekel being voted Player of the Week after recording a five-save shutout and notching the assist on the lone goal in his side’s 1-0 victory against Memphis 901 FC on Saturday afternoon at Legion Field. One of Legion FC’s early signings before its inaugural season in 2019, VanOekel has been part of the backbone of a squad that has earned back-to-back postseason appearances in its first two years. His five-save performance against Memphis was his 16th regular-season shutout in 44 appearances for Legion FC, while his assist on Neco Brett’s game-winning goal was just the 10th recorded by a goalkeeper in the Championship’s regular season since the start of the 2017 season and the sixth time a goalkeeper had recorded a shutout and an assist in that span. Catch MVO's assist below, and check out his Save of the Match HERE. Legion FC left back Ryan James, in just his third game with the club after signing this offseason, also earned a spot on the USLC Team of the Week for Week Four, thanks to a stellar defensive showing and helping his side keep the shutout. James won 8 of 11 duels and recorded six recoveries, four tackles, four clearances, and two interceptions in front of the record crowd of 10,177 at Legion Field on Saturday.
VanOekel earned 47 percent of the ballot for his performance, narrowly edging out Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC’s Michee Ngalina on 40 percent after the winger recorded one goal and two assists in his side’s 4-0 victory against Sporting Kansas City II on Friday night. The Championship’s Player of the Week is selected by the USL National Media Panel, which is made up of representatives from each media market in the Championship. (via USL Championship)