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Charlotte def. Inter Miami 1-0
Andre Shinyashiki scores his first goal after joining Charlotte FC this week
In football, the final score doesn’t always tell the full story of the fixture, and that was certainly the case today at Bank of America Stadium. Charlotte FC came away with the win and three points, but the 1-0 win doesn’t fully reflect a match that was dominated by the Crown Club from start to finish.
“We really dominated this game,” said defender Guzmán Corujo via a translator at a postgame press conference. Corujo told members of the media he felt the need to step up in the second half after an injury took team captain Christian Fuchs out of the match in the 53rd minute – the first time Fuchs has missed significant minutes in MLS play. The injury, however, turned out to be the turning point in the game as three new players came on the pitch.
Andre Shinyashiki, who joined the team from the Colorado Rapids earlier this week, immediately made a difference after coming in at the 57th minute. He jumped on the field with three hops due to a superstition of his. 11 minutes later, he scored his first goal for Charlotte FC - a joker - off a joker assist from Yordy Reyna. That would be enough as Miami could never find an equalizer.
With the win, Charlotte improved to 8th on the MLS table. Charlotte now has 13 points in 11 matches with a 4-1-6 record and a -3 goal differential.
The first great play in the game came in the 4th minute from Miami keeper Drake Callender. Defender Joseph Mora made a great cross to forward Karol Świderski, whose header forced Callender’s heroic diving save.
Charlotte made sure Callender was busy all game. On the other end of the pitch, the match was another great sizzle reel for Charlotte goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina. While he didn’t have much to do in the first 30 minutes, Miami improved their attack. As an aside, the Croatian Sensation earned yet another fan today in his former rival. Shinyashiki was ebullient with his praise of Charlotte’s goalkeeper after the game: “Kahlina was fantastic in goal and made some unreal saves.”
Indeed, Kahlina’s clean sheet was well-earned, and not without a fight. The most dangerous minute was the 53rd, when Miami’s Bryce Duke passed to Jean Mota, who found former Aresnal player Kieran Gibbs right in front of the goal. Gibbs made the mistake of trying to take on Corujo, who was doing his best to stay in the way, and Kahlina, who got the save, instead of passing to a wide-open Leonardo Campana, Miami’s forward. With Kahlina’s block, the ball went up in the air, and Fuchs jumped up to make a dangerous header that sent the ball back to Kahlina to stop the play.
Soon after his jump, Fuchs went to the ground injured, setting the triple substitution in motion. Fuchs’ injury was to his right thigh, but wasn’t serious enough for him to leave the bench for the locker room.
Eventually, Miami was able to take 12 shots with 6 on target. Charlotte’s marginally better 14 shots with 7 on target doesn’t tell the complete story of their dominance but does make it clear they had trouble converting opportunities into chances.
“Especially in the first half, we were out of control on chances,” said Coach Miguel Ángel Ramírez about Charlotte’s match against Miami. Then, “we were able to stop a really good second [half] they were having.”
In terms of Shinyashiki’s first game, Ramírez said, “I’m happy with him and I’m happy for him today … he wanted something new in his career and he chose Charlotte … hopefully it’s just the beginning.” Ramírez credited Shinyashiki and other new offensive additions with giving Charlotte the depth to break through Miami’s defense, and Charlotte’s fans with helping Charlotte to improve to a 4-game winning streak at home – one away from the MLS expansion record. “What’s going on here is simply amazing. The atmosphere that you’ve got here in this stadium is amazing.”
Forward McKinze Gaines also had one of his best games so far in only his third start. He created many of Charlotte’s chances in the first half, so I was surprised when he came off the pitch in the 57th minute as part of the triple switch that took Fuchs and Jóźwiak off the pitch and added defender Christian Makoun in addition to Shinyashiki and Reyna. “They were hurting us on our right flank. We needed something extra; we needed more control. They were giving us less space in the back, we needed a different profile of winger in the last third.”
Coach Ramírez added the rationale for replacing Jóźwiak with Reyna as well: Jóźwiak is still not at 100% after coming down with the illness or flu that made its way through Charlotte’s locker room a couple weeks ago, but Ramírez wanted him to have the minutes. The substitutions turned out to be the right move and led to Shinyashiki’s first goal off the Reyna assist.
When I talked to Andre at the postgame press conference, I wanted to know how his experience in with the Rapids – a notoriously hard team to face in Colorado – would translate to Charlotte, where the fan base is intent on being the difference maker at home.
“In Colorado, when teams came to play there we knew they were going to struggle in the end because of the altitude. Here in Charlotte, it’s the fans – they get loud, it’s suffocating for teams to come here. My experience is in a sense of just understanding game management which is really important, and I think today we probably game them more chances than we wanted to,” said Shinyashiki. “For me just bringing that experience of being in the league for four years is important because you’re not always going to have a perfect game. If you can find a way to win games without being perfect, I think you’ll be in a pretty good spot at the end of the year.
Charlotte’s next game is on Wednesday in Virginia against USL1’s Richmond Kickers in the Round of 32 for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. I asked Coach Ramírez if we’re going to see more Charlotte FC starters than we did in their first Open Cup match in Greenville:
“It will depend on the recovery. Tomorrow we have off, we need to assess them, how they recover after the game and how they’re ready to compete.”
Tune in at 6:30 PM ET on Wednesday night to see how much firepower Charlotte deploys for their second round of cup play.