MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Memphis 901 FC (12-9-8, 44 points) soundly defeated Atlanta United 2 (8-13-10, 34 points) 4-2 Sunday evening at AutoZone Park. In its first win after trailing at the half, four unique goalscorers propelled Memphis to the brink of a historic first playoff berth. An OKC Energy FC loss to or draw with Birmingham Legion FC on Sunday would confirm Memphis’ spot in the 2021 USL Championship Playoffs. 

Memphis came out on the front foot, peppering Atlanta’s Vicente Reyes with shots early and often. Forward Roland Lamah, midfielder Dre Fortune and forward Kyle Murphy all had their chances stuffed by the Atlanta goalkeeper. Momentum shifted in a hurry, though, as an erroneous Mark Segbers tackle in the Memphis box led to the visitors earning a penalty kick. As the first half ended, ATL UTD 2’s Abdoulaye Diop slotted his penalty just off the fingers of Cody Cropper to give Atlanta the early lead in the 44’. 

Trailing to begin the second half, an offensive resurgence earned Memphis four goals in the span of 19 minutes. Roland Lamah sparked the response in the 50’ as the veteran forward gathered a deflected ball in the box and sent it just over the line, despite an attempted goal-line clearance from Atlanta. Not long after, midfielder Kadeem Dacres similarly sent home a loose ball in the Atlanta box to give Memphis its first lead of the evening. To cap off a trio of scores in 10 minutes, a perfect ball from Laurent Kissiedou set Kyle Murphy up with a simple finish to extend Memphis’ lead to a pair of goals in the 60’. 

ATL UTD 2’s attempted comeback was spearheaded by a strong goal from Ajani Fortune—the younger brother of Memphis’ Dre Fortune—in the 64’ but was quickly answered by a goal from Alan Winn in the 69’, as the forward capitalized on a deflected Kyle Murphy shot. The 4-2 scoreline would stick for the remaining 20 minutes of the match as Memphis inched closer to confirming a spot in the playoffs. 

“We talk about attitude and effort all the time,” Head Coach Ben Pirmann said. “For us, we want to continue to improve, and we know the job’s not done. This is amazing. When Peter [Freund], Craig [Unger] and Tim [Howard] put this team together, this is what they envisioned. This is what we wanted to give back to our community, to our city and specifically AutoZone Park—it was rocking tonight. It’s fun, it’s exciting.” 

“We take every minute seriously,” Roland Lamah said. “We had 19 players, and everyone was ready to play. We are a family, and we support each other, and I’m very happy for that. We are excited for the three points, but now we look ahead to Louisville and the last two home games.” 

The 4-2 victory for Memphis 901 FC was not only tied for the highest-scoring match in club history but was also the first time scoring four or more goals since defeating Bethlehem Steel FC 5-0 in September 2019. With their goals, Winn, Lamah and Dacres earned their first, third and fourth goals, respectively while Kyle Murphy added to his record-breaking campaign with his 18th score of the season—the third most in the league. Additionally, Memphis’ 40 goals scored on the year are the most in a single season in club history, topping the previous record of 37 set in 2019. 

Memphis’ magic number is down to two points, meaning 901 FC need either two draws or one win in its remaining three matches to ensure a spot in the playoffs without the help of others. However, Memphis can clinch a spot in the 2021 USL Championship Playoffs with an OKC Energy FC loss to or draw with Birmingham Legion FC Sunday evening. 

Next time out, Memphis will be tested on the road as the club travels to Kentucky to face Louisville City FC on Saturday, Oct. 23. Kickoff from Lynn Family Stadium is set for 6:30 p.m. CT and the match will be broadcast on ESPN+ and WMC+ (5.5 – Over the Air, 906 – Comcast, 6 – Dish). Memphis’ trip to Louisville will be the last road match of the regular season before 901 FC finish October with a pair of home matches.