Aside from the first five minutes ...
Charlotte FC trails 1-0 in Philly at the half
After two matches in which Charlotte FC scored in fewer than 7 minutes, they learned what it felt like to be scored on early.
Until tonight, Charlotte hadn’t given up a goal until the 37th minute, and they hadn’t given up a non-penalty goal until the 6th minute of first half stoppage time. As both of those were against DC United, Charlotte hadn’t given up a goal in the first half in four straight games – pretty good for an expansion club.
An amazing pass from Philadelphia Union defender Kai Wagner to forward Sérgio Santos lands right in front of his boot downfield. Santos passes to Philadelphia forward Julián Carranza right in front of the goal. Charlotte goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina isn’t prepared for an assault in the fourth minute. Philadelphia scores.
Charlotte came out the gate with a defense-focused 5-4-1 formation, with star striker Karol Świderski at the tip of the spear. The conservative formation reminded me of my Bundesliga team 1. FC Union Berlin, except that the Eisern Union is known for their solid defense; so far, Charlotte is not.
For the first twenty minutes, Philadelphia’s defense looked impenetrable. Their midfield was playing harder and running faster, holding on to possessions and winning challenges left and right.
Then, in the twentieth minute, a foul on Charlotte midfielder Sergio Ruiz and a yellow card on Philadelphia midfielder José Andrés Martínez Torres changed the momentum. A foul on Świderski in the 23rd minute led to a free kick in Union territory, but Charlotte couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity. Right-back Jaylin Lindsey kept up aggressive play that led to multiple corners for Charlotte, but while the momentum and possession came back to Charlotte for the latter part of the first half, they failed to find good shots on goal.
In the 29th minute, the Philly façade began to crack as Philadelphia took a corner kick to nowhere from the right side of Charlotte’s goal. Philadelphia won a free kick in the 32nd minute off a Ben Bender foul, but it was immediately returned to sender.
After the disappointing start for Charlotte, the only other notable event was a nice-looking Ben Bender shot that simply wouldn’t go in.
At halftime, the fan commentary was swift to condemn the formation; let’s see what happens in the second half.