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MLS Monday from Soccer Sheet
Some news and exciting changes.
In advance of the changing seasons – not only summer to autumn, but also Major League Soccer to the European leagues and the World Cup – I’m changing the format of Soccer Sheet a little. Starting today, you can look forward to:
MLS Mondays: expanded coverage of Major League Soccer, still focused on Charlotte FC.
World Wednesdays: a recap of what’s going on in international play, including the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and prestige tournaments like the UEFA Champions League
Spieltag Saturday: “Spieltag” is German for “gameday,” and I’m hoping our Saturday newsletter becomes your source for updates on the German Bundesliga, Spanish La Liga, English Premier League, and other European leagues.
When Charlotte FC news breaks, we’ll still bring it to you as soon as possible – but I hope with more regularity we’ll be able to deliver even better content and be a better resource for followers, fans, and supporters alike.
We have big plans for Soccer Sheet this year - including a trip to the World Cup - but we need your help. Soccer Sheet will remain completely free, but we are seeking sponsors and in future issues we’ll be providing cool ways for you to support the publication beyond a donate link. If you’re interested in helping, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Thanks for reading – we’re excited about what the future holds.
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Charlotte FC loses a “must-win” match against Orlando
First the good news: wingers Kamil Jóźwiak and McKinze Gaines had a great night. Jóźwiak sent a great cross to Gaines in the sixty-sixth minute, and McKinze’s head connected for one of the best goals of Charlotte’s first season. The goal not only equalized the game 4 minutes after an Orlando goal; it was also the first assist for Jóźwiak and the first goal for Gaines in MLS play.
Additionally, Charlotte got the results they needed across the league. Columbus and Atlanta tied, Chicago lost to NYCFC, Cincinnati only got one point against the Red Bulls, New England had a rough loss to Montreal, and the surging Toronto was stopped by Inter Miami, a team that looks increasingly like a lock for the playoffs. In general, losses and draws from Chicago, Toronto, Atlanta, Cincy, New England, and Columbus will keep Charlotte’s playoff hopes alive.
However, despite an energetic second half in which Charlotte outplayed Orlando City SC, the Lions scored late in the 89th minute, went home with three points and shot up to 5th place in the Eastern Conference standings. Orlando is in close competition with Charlotte for the final playoff spots; with only seven matches left, Charlotte can’t afford to continue give away points to teams that could shut them out of the postseason. When I assessed Charlotte’s playoff chances for Queen City Nerve, I assumed a playoff-bound team would have defeated Orlando at home in Charlotte.
During a post-match press conference, Charlotte interim head coach Christian Lattanzio was visibly frustrated at the result; playoff considerations aside, he thought Charlotte played well enough in the second half to earn a win or a draw. “I’m frustrated on one side because I think we should not lose this game. Never. Maybe we don’t win it, but we don’t lose it … I’m frustrated because we made mistakes that we know how to prevent, and we train how to prevent them. When the game comes and those moments come, we make them [mistakes]. And that’s frustrating because the boys played really, really well by creating chances and getting back into the game.”
He also made an interesting comment during the press conference about how the “quality” of other teams compares to Charlotte. In response to a question from veteran sportswriter Steve Goldberg, Lattanzio said “[Orlando] are the team with a lot of quality. A lot of quality and they play good in those moments, and we make mistakes that we shouldn’t make.” Initially, the comment sounded like one of Lattanzio’s predecessor’s infamous comments complaining about his roster (albeit in more diplomatic form), so I asked for clarification.
Lattanzio responded, “The other teams have more ‘quality’ in the sense that they have more experienced players in certain positions, and we have young players playing in those positions [who need] to acquire that experience. So experience is also part of the ‘quality’ … [opposing players] have more ‘quality’ in the sense that they have been playing the game in different countries as well. For me, it’s a credit to our team.”
Charlotte (10-15-2) is currently in 10th place in the Eastern Conference with 32 points. Their next match is on Saturday, August 27 at Bank of America Stadium when they host a Toronto team that has improved dramatically over the course of the season. If Charlotte wins, their playoff hopes stay alive; a loss would put Toronto ahead of Charlotte on the Eastern Conference table and effective close the door on the Crown Club’s postseason dreams.
Premier League Surprise
This may be breaking my own rules, but there were a pair of interesting European results since our last issue. Across the pond, Manchester United picked up their first points of the season against Liverpool with a 2-1 result against Liverpool F.C. Last season Liverpool were the runners-up in both the EPL and the UEFA Champions League, while winning the Football Association Cup and the FA Community Shield. However, every season is a new day, and Liverpool currently sits at 16th on the Premier League table, two spots north of relegation.
Lewandowski’s La Liga Brace
Robert Lewandowski scored in the first minute of his second match with FC Barcelona, and then again in the 68th minute in a 1-4 victory over Real Sociedad yesterday. Both goals in the brace were go-ahead goals. Lewandowski, formerly of German powerhouse Bayern Munich, is a teammate of Charlotte’s Karol Świderski on the Polish national squad. His effort will calm Barca fans after a surprising first-week draw. FC Barcelona is now 5th in La Liga.
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