Livre de jeu Silver Linings
CF Montréal defeats Charlotte FC 2-1, but not all is lost.
Charlotte FC fell to Club de Foot Montréal 2-1 last night on the road in a match that, like many others in this inaugural season, will be better remembered for its “firsts” than its final score. Charlotte was missing its starting goalkeeper, its leading playmaker, and two of its top three scorers, making a single-goal deficit acceptable if not impressive. Furthermore, the absences gave many players the opportunity to make their first start in MLS play, and defensive talisman Guzmán Corujo scored his first goal of the campaign.
Despite silver linings, a loss is a loss; in this case the first for Christian Lattanzio as interim head coach. After tonight, Lattanzio begins his tenure 1-1-1, and Charlotte drops to 9th place in the Eastern Conference table with a 6-9-2 record and 20 points on the season. With their 0-2 loss to CF Montréal at home in May, Charlotte earns no points against Montréal this season, and the Québécois club is the first to defeat Charlotte FC twice in league play.
Charlotte had to make major changes Saturday night due to COVID protocols and the pending departure of Alan Franco. Throughout the week before the game, the team learned of different players who would have to stay home due to COVID-19; the final list included Ben Bender, McKinze Gaines, Kamil Jóźwiak, Kristijan Kahlina, Titi Ortiz, Andre Shinyashiki, and Kerwin Vargas. Kahlina is also celebrating the birth of his first child. Harrison Afful and Christian Fuchs were questionable, but available as substitutes, so Corujo started as captain.
The team was rightfully worried and petitioned the league to move the match but were denied the request by MLS. Bench players like goalkeeper George Marks didn’t find out they were going to start until two days ago, but Marks told me in a postgame press conference he tried to “take some positives out of it, just like the team is.”
“I think there’s definitely some obvious [silver linings] in getting young guys minutes. Obviously, we were a little bit more depleted than we would have liked to have been tonight, but being able to get three MLS debuts – and Chris [Hegardt] to come in who hasn’t played in a while … Something that we can build off of knowing that we have that depth to rely on,” said Marks.
The match got off to a rocky start. In the sixth minute, Montreal’s Zachary Brault-Guillard got the ball on the right wing, passed it to striker Romell Quioto inside the box, and Quioto took advantage of the situation and stuffed the ball into the left side of the goal. After the game, Marks commented that he felt like his view was obstructed and lost critical time to make it to the ball.
However, it only took three minutes for Charlotte to respond. A Montreal foul gave Jordy Alcivar a free kick, which rebounded off Montreal goalkeeper Sebastian Breza's save. Charlotte’s Joseph Mora got the rebound, passed to Anton Walks, and Walks made a great cross to the acting captain in front of the goal. Corujo easily scored his first goal of the campaign off the set piece.
In the second half, Montreal again sprung into action immediately. In under 90 seconds, Mathieu Choinière, who just came in for Lassi Lappalainen, dribbled the ball into the left side of the penalty box and launched a shot into the back right corner of the net. After a couple minutes of video review, the officials confirmed that there was no offsides or obstructed view for Charlotte defenders, despite the visitors’ complaints.
Charlotte failed to respond in the second half like they did in the first. Montreal played an unusually physical game, and the referees declined to call some questionable contact by the home team. Montreal picked up 17 fouls over the course of the match and drew three yellow cards, while pushing around Charlotte’s offense at key moments.
The visitors started to make changes in the 57th minute as defender Christian Fuchs came in for Koa Santos, who made his first MLS start in the game. Fuchs strengthened the defense and the attack when he came in and took back the captain armband from Corujo, and Charlotte got an additional surprise in the first MLS appearance of midfielder Quinn McNeill, who is currently on loan to the Charlotte Independence. While McNeill had his first minutes for Charlotte FC last night, he played like someone who wants many more, replacing Derrick Jones who had failed to make a mark on the game.
In the 64th minute of play Jordy Alcivar took a corner kick that looked like he was attempting his second olimpico of the campaign, but the closest Charlotte was able to come to an equalizer was in the closing minutes of the match. Forward Karol Świderski, back in North America after weeks of international play (and his own wedding) came closer to a goal than he's been in months. He received a corner kick in front of the goal in the 82nd minute, his first shot was saved by Breza, it rebounded back to his boot, but his second attempt went over the net.
The high temperatures and humidity also affected play, leading to one hydration break per half. Midfielder Brandt Bronico, always one of the hardest working players for Charlotte, looked like he had played 90 minutes at the end of the first half. The second hydration break, along with fouls and other stoppage in the second half, led to almost eight minutes of extra time at the end of the game. Charlotte used the opportunity to launch a final attack, but ultimately came up short.
After the game, coach Lattanzio told the team he was proud of them since they performed well despite the difficult circumstances. “They are good guys. Intelligent. Coachable,” he said about the players making their debut.
“I am very happy with all of them. They showed that they can play at this level and they belong at this level,” Lattanzio concluded.
Eight days a week
Charlotte plays Austin FC (8-4-4, 28 points) at home on Thursday June 30, and travels to Texas to face Houston Dynamo FC (6-7-3, 21 points) on Sunday July 3. This will be the first time Charlotte plays three league games in an eight-day period. Then, after six days, they come back to face Nashville (7-5-5, 26 points) in Charlotte to complete their three-match stretch against Western Conference opponents.
When asked if the players out due to COVID protocols will be ready to face Austin, the team told the media it would be on a “case-by-case basis.” Charlotte fans should be proud of the players who made their debut tonight, but for the challenging week ahead they’ll be hoping for a full-strength team.
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