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Updated: Lattanzio faces his greatest challenge yet
Charlotte enters today's away match against CF Montréal shorthanded
UPDATE: After press time, Charlotte FC confirmed the following players would not be available tonight: Ben Bender, McKenzie Gaines, Kamil Jozwiak, Kristijan Kahlina, Titi Ortiz, Andre Shinyashiki, Kerwin Vargas.
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Last week, I travelled to Columbus to write about the experience of attending an away match for Queen City Nerve. When I spoke with Charlotte FC’s interim coach Christian Lattanzio after the match, he was more optimistic than I would have assumed about his chances today against CF Montréal.
Then-coach Miguel Ángel Ramírez believed Montréal was in a class above Charlotte, and while I’d love to be surprised, I don’t think this will be Charlotte’s first road win.
Coach Lattanzio is more optimistic, noting to me that Karol Świderski will be back. “We are going to need to be strong and we need to keep playing our football. Obviously I have big respect for Montréal, but we are there to win.”
At a midweek press conference, Lattanzio reiterated his belief - if not exactly confidence - in Charlotte’s ability to pull out a win:
“We will go there to give them a game and to be as competitive as we can. And our aim is to always go onto the pitch to win a game. This is for sure. Sometimes will be possible, sometimes not because of opposition, because of many factors but we will always go on the pitch to try to win the game until the end.
“Montréal are very well organized, they play good football, they have good players, good coach and therefore it is a team that we need to respect like everybody else but we want to play also our game, home and away, we want to go to Montréal and play our game.
“The boys have been really great again, working hard all week, and I can sense there is a sense of growth. They are assimilating more what we are trying to do together and what we are trying to build together.”
However, since our chat after the Columbus match, Lattanzio has lost multiple options for his starting eleven tonight. In addition to previously announced questionable players - Christian Fuchs (left lower leg injury), Pablo Sisniega (concussion), and Harrison Afful (left thigh injury) - some players didn’t travel with the team to Montréal. Midfielder Alan Franco is reportedly leaving Charlotte FC for Argentine club CA Talleres.
Even worse, major players and producers for the team are out on COVID protocols. While the team informed me the list of players who were unavailable would not be released before the roster exchange tonight, expect Charlotte to be missing multiple players with recorded goals in MLS play this campaign, reducing the already slim chances of the Crown Club picking up their first road win.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t wish you Happy Pride, courtesy of the Columbus Crew’s Tifo Committee: