The stage has been set for Charlotte FC's second season which is just on the horizon. Let's take a look at seven mouth-watering matchups that you need to be tuning into come the season:
Home Opener - February 25th
If there’s one thing that the 2022 inaugural season taught is that there are few things that match the energy of Charlotte FC home matches. The party resumes against the New England Revolution.
It's fitting as Charlotte’s first-ever win in history came at home against New England. The last CLTFC home opener made history and there’s no reason more history can’t be made on February 25rd with an open upper bowl.
St. Louis (Away) - March 4th
Charlotte is no longer the new kid on the block, with St. Louis City joining the league for the 2023 season. Despite being a Western Conference team, there are early signs of a cross-conference rivalry brewing with fans on both sides not shying away from banter.
Serious bragging rights are on the line as St. Louis hosts Charlotte for their home opener, while Charlotte can play the spoilers. There’s just something about match-ups between recent expansion sides that adds a little extra pizazz, especially this one.
Atlanta United (Home) - March 11th
Can’t have a list like this without including that other city. The I-85 Derby got off to a strong start in 2022, with both sides earning hard-fought wins against each other. In the end, Charlotte slightly edged Atlanta in the standings, finishing two points ahead of them in the East.
However, since they last faced each other, both teams have gone through significant changes but what hasn’t changed is the extra weight this match-up holds. The series between these teams included an Olimpico goal while the other an extra-time winner. What drama will this rivalry have in store for us in 2023?
Nashville (Home) - May 20th
With St. Louis joining the Western Conference that means Nashville comes back to the East. However, it won’t be the first time these two sides meet. Charlotte's first encounter with an MLS team was in the 2022 preseason, where they lost in a scrimmage against Nashville. When it mattered, however, Charlotte swiftly beat their neighbors 4 – 1 at home in the regular season.
Could we see a three-way rivalry begin to develop between Charlotte, Nashville, and Atlanta similar to that of the Cascadia Cup between Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver? Sweet Tea Cup anyone?
Los Angeles FC (Home) - August 26th
Surprise, surprise hosting the 2022 MLS Cup Champions is a big deal.
Let’s just say the last time Charlotte played LAFC, it wasn’t pretty... However, what better way to bounce back from a result like that than to beat the reigning champs in front of your fans?
Charlotte knows a little something about that, as they became the only expansion team to sweep the reigning champions in their inaugural season.
Philadelphia Union (Home) - September 20th
Last season’s number one seed in the East and MLS Cup Runner-Ups, the Union have become one of the measuring sticks of the East. They humbled Charlotte in their first encounter, but the Crown got the ultimate revenge when they thrashed Philadelphia 4-0 at home essentially costing them the Supporter’s Shield.
Does Philly hold a grudge against Charlotte? Guess we’ll find out.
Miami (Home) - October 21st
If there is anything that the 2022 season taught us, it’s that the road to the playoffs is not over until it’s over. The Eastern Conference was incredibly tight all up until Decision Day, and both Charlotte and Miami were a part of the contingent of teams vying for a playoff spot. Miami managed to qualify, while Charlotte just missed out.
Playoffs are once again a goal of the club, and whether they qualify or host a game could be on the line in the very last game of the season against Miami at home. Having the fans present on Decision Day could make all the difference in the playoff picture.
Oh, and World Cup Winner Lionel Messi just may play a part in it...