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Graphic Courtesy of Shawn Carter, @ShawnCarter_UA on Twitter

Ok – just a tangent before I get into to soccer talk. No spoilers either (I promise). But can I just say that this week’s Game of Thrones has ripped my heart out once again. Damn you George R.R. Martin and HBO. That last scene hit me pretty hard unexpectedly. Some of you may think I’m crazy, but if you watch Game of Thrones, you know what I’m talking about. Totally devastated here.

Ok – got that off my chest. Thanks for sticking around with me. Now onto soccer talk.

The Birmingham Hammers (0-0-2, 0 points) travel this Thursday (May 26th, 2016) to Memphis, TN to take on the other upstart franchise in the Southeast conference, Memphis City FC (0-1-0, 1 point). Unfortunately the BBL will not be able to make the mid-week trip to provide you eye-witness reporting. However, you will be able to watch a streamed version via the Birmingham Hammers and Big Eye Sports for a cost of $10. Stay tuned to the Birmingham Hammers Twitter feed and FaceBook page for details.

Both teams are limping into this game. The Hammers are coming off a disappointing 3-1 loss to the Knoxville Force last weekend. I spoke with a few people around the team before that trip, and all were very optimistic about their chances of bringing home the 3 points. But it wasn’t meant to be. The Hammers lost their composure in the second half when Julio Noel was sent off around the 75th minute. If the Hammers had a chance to get the result on the road, it ended when Noel saw red.

And with as much up-front talent that the Hammers seemingly have on the roster, they have yet to break through for a goal in the run of play in NPSL competition. Their one goal against Knoxville was scored off a set piece by center back Alex Brown. While a nice goal in its own right, I’m sure Coach Joel Person would like to see AJ Adcock, Gael Mabiala, Karl Chester, or any number of the other striking options put a ball or two in the back of the net soon. At this level, the Hammers must be able to finish in the attacking third. Otherwise, it will be a long inaugural season.

Perhaps this Thursday night will be the breakthrough that the Hammers have been waiting for. Memphis City is coming off a 0-0 draw with the New Orleans Jesters. But despite the lack of offensive creativity against Nawlins, MCFC has a dynamic goal scoring option in Santiago Moore. Reigning NPSL Southeastern Conference ‘Star of the Week’ winner Santi Moore will be playing in an attacking central midfielder role for MCFC. He is an accurate passer and a solid ball striker. The Hammers’ rollercoaster backline and defensive midfield will have to play as good as they have all year in order to get a result on the road.

The Boys in Red do have one thing going for them this week though. Last Sunday morning, fans of MCFC and the NPSL Southeastern conference awoke to news that the organization had fired its coach, Matt Williams. Much has been speculated about the guard change in Memphis, but one thing for sure is that there is turmoil percolating through to the surface in the Bluff City, even if MCFC is putting on a brave face. And when there is anxiety, questions, and distractions off the field, it is possible that the product on the field will be impacted. New coach Chris Harrington will do his best to keep the ship moving forward. Otherwise, the prospects of Memphis City’s inaugural season look bleak.

This midweek matchup will be one for the record books. Two expansion clubs meeting for the first time. Two teams looking to climb the table in the NPSL Southeast conference. Two franchises trying to hold the door so that the rest of the conference clubs do not run over them.