Coach addresses Charlotte FC's lack of intensity in loss to Austin FC
Charlotte loses 0-1 to Austin at home; also, one way of figuring out Charlotte's favorite player
Last night could have been a great match for Charlotte FC. Their key players were back in the lineup, they were playing at home, practices were going well, and it seemed like all the pieces were coming together. Unfortunately, in the words of noted philosopher Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
Austin FC didn’t hold back as they played a physical match at Bank of America Stadium on Thursday. Charlotte’s play reminded me of the words of Yeats: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity.”
Austin City Limits Charlotte’s Chances
Charlotte FC fell to Austin FC 0-1 at home. Austin midfielder Dani Pereira came off the bench in the 60th minute, and in the 62nd minute his shot had a lucky bounce off the crossbar, avoiding Charlotte goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina and ending up in the goal. Although Charlotte dominated the match up to that point and would end the night with twice as many shots as Austin, they didn’t play their final 30 minutes like a team that needed an equalizer.
It seemed the Charlotte players on the pitch who were working the hardest seemed frustrated as well. About 10 minutes after Austin’s goal, Charlotte midfielder Brandt Bronico took matters into his own feet and dribbled the ball down the field into Austin territory, beating multiple defenders and launching an unsuccessful shot at Austin goalkeeper Brad Stuver. Bronico’s work ethic and the uncharacteristic shot – only his third scoring attempt this year – were a stark contrast with other members of the team.
At the postgame press conference, I asked interim head coach Christian Lattanzio about the team’s lack of urgency in the second half and contrasted it with Bronico’s example.
Sam Spencer: Did you feel like some intensity was missing tonight?
Christian Lattanzio: Yes, this is the one part that … I would agree with that, and I think this is the one part of the game that we need to improve. You know that Brandt [Bronico] is a great example for this team, he leads with his example on a daily basis in training, let alone in the game, and it shows in the game. So yeah! I think [Brandt’s offensive run and shot] was a great moment that can embody what we need to do as a team. To have the same sense of urgency that Brandt showed in that moment; and when we can get there I think we will see a very interesting team in this league.
It wasn’t just a lack of intensity; a lot seemed to go wrong for Charlotte. Winger Kamil Jóźwiak’s crosses often looked more like shots, ending up in Stuver’s hands instead of on the head of a Charlotte player. Karol Świderski didn’t get enough touches to be effective, and it’s debatable how much of that is his own fault.
Of Charlotte’s 9 shots, 4 were off target and 3 were blocked as Austin did a great job preventing holes in their defense and getting between Charlotte players and the goal. Winger Andre Shinyashiki, who has stepped up to be Charlotte’s most important scorer in the midseason, fell victim to the Austin blocks.
When I asked defender Anton Walkes after the game whether or not Austin’s physicality had an effect on him, he brushed off the question, but at some point 13 called fouls (and a couple more uncalled fouls) have to have an effect. Speaking of bad calls, let’s not forget about this moment:
It's going to be a long weekend for Charlotte as they travel to Texas to face Houston Dynamo (6-8-3) on Sunday. Houston is 9th in the Western Conference and is another opportunity for Charlotte to pick up their first road win, but if a tired Charlotte team yet again lacks intensity on the pitch, they’re going to struggle.
Which Charlotte Players Are Doing Best at Auction?
Here’s one way to measure the popularity of individual Charlotte FC players: MLS is auctioning off signed game-worn Juneteenth kits from the club’s draw against the Columbus Crew.
As of 1:45 PM on Friday, the leading jerseys are Ben Bender ($1,110), Guzman Corujo ($623.33), and Andre Shinyashiki ($620). Kahlina and Bronico, unsurprisingly, round out the top 5. Bender’s kit currently has the 4th highest bid of all MLS jerseys.
Bidding ends in less than five days.
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