Charlotte Hot, Nashville Chicken
Charlotte FC improves to playoff position after a decisive 4-1 win at home.
Charlotte FC played their best match ever last night, and it wasn’t only about the score. While Charlotte scored four goals in one match for the first time, they also dominated Nashville SC, only conceding a goal that came off a penalty kick. After the match, the team sits in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, with 26 points and an 8-10-2 record.
It was clearly the best offensive game for the young club. Defense, midfield, and offense all worked together. Forwards got more touches than usual. Both the starters and the bench played well and created opportunities and chances all night. Interim Head Coach Christian Lattanzio told reporters after the match that he feels he has a deep roster, saying, “We have a rich team.”
Thanks for reading Soccer Sheet! Subscribe for Soccer updated and free giveaways.
Speaking of lineups, I posted my concise assessment of Charlotte’s playoff prospects to Twitter late last night with a nod to former head coach Miguel Ángel Ramírez:
The Night Everything Worked
Throughout the match, forward Yordy Reyna created significant opportunities for Charlotte FC, but a pass to Sergio Ruiz in the first half immediately changed the game. Ruiz was tackled and fouled inside the box, leading to Charlotte’s second penalty kick of the year. Yet again, captain Christian Fuchs took the shot.
It looked effortless. Fuchs’ ball went left as Nashville keeper Joe Willis dived right. Fuchs had his second goal of the year, and Charlotte was up a goal on the fourth-place team in the west. Nashville came back with a strong attack to end the half, but Charlotte made it back to the locker room in command.
Early in the second half, the designated player drought ended. Striker Karol Świderski scored his first goal since March 26, his fifth of the season, reclaiming the title of lead scorer with a nice header off a Reyna cross. Bank of America Stadium exploded as Świderski demolished the “throne” in the supporters section that’s used in pregame festivities.
When I spoke with Karol after the match, he was elated. “I’m so happy to score again because after a long time in Charlotte, this moment was important for me because if you are a striker you need to score. And I haven’t scored in maybe ten games. I hope in every next game I take my opportunities to score again,” said Świderski.
Like Houston Dynamo last week, Nashville didn’t let the match stay 2-0 for long. A Charlotte penalty gave Nashville’s Hany Mukhtar the chance to face goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina for a penalty kick; with Mukhtar’s goal Kahlina is now 0-3 in penalty situations this season. When I asked him about his mentality facing penalty kicks after the match, Kahlina told me, “When it will be really important, I will save it. I believe this.”
2-1 can be a dangerous score in the closing minutes of the match, but Lattanzio yet again planned to have midfielder Ben Bender and forward Andre Shinyashiki come off the bench. Immediately, Bender’s energy contributed to the offense, and within 10 minutes he received a great pass down the right line from defender Jaylin Lindsey, who had also come off the bench. Bender found Ruiz running towards the goal in the middle of the box, and Ruiz picked up his first goal for the club.
Not to be outdone, Andre Shinyashiki tied Świderski yet again with a joker blast from north of the penalty box. Bender picked up his fifth assist of the campaign as Shinyashiki picked up his fifth goal with the club in only 539 minutes played for the team.
I’ve had nothing but good things to say about Shinyashiki in the past weeks, especially his ability to attack relentlessly and not be encumbered by previous plays and misses. However, I was surprised last night when Świderski agreed. “Andre is [a] fantastic player … he can lose three, four balls but in one moment he can score from nothing.”
Defender Anton Walkes summed the match up nicely on Twitter:
Bienvenidos a Miami
Charlotte FC has a great opportunity to improve their seeding and their away record as they face Inter Miami CF (6-8-4, 22 points) on Saturday. In their previous meeting, Charlotte was victorious 1-0, but the club is yet to defeat an opponent both at home and on the road. Furthermore, Miami hasn’t lost at home since a 1-3 result against Houston Dynamo on April 2.
However, If Charlotte keeps playing like they did last night, they’ll not only be able to take Miami, but also go deep in the playoffs.
Thanks for reading! Subscribe below: