ATLANTA – Two young Americans stole the headlines for Charlotte FC in their meeting against Atlanta United. Ben Bender, the 21-year-old, number one draft pick made his first start for the club and 20-year-old North Carolina native, Adam Armour, scored the Club’s first ever goal.
“We talked a couple days before the game and he said that he had been liking my energy when I came onto games, and he said I was in the eleven and so I was pretty excited,” Bender on what his coach, Miguel Ramírez, told him leading up to the match.
“He just gave me confidence and told me to work hard. He put me out at left wing and I’m just super grateful for that opportunity.”
Left wing isn't Bender's natural position but it didn't hinder his ability to threaten and create scoring opportunities, something he had worked on in training for the match.
“The first half is always tough to break down the opponent. I think that we started to play more composed, and the opportunities came from there. We were getting down the flanks and whipping balls into the striker, that was one thing that really helped.
“This is something that Lattanzio and I have talked a lot about because when you get in that final third it is really hard to break a team down. So, we have been working on penetrating down the wing first.”
Bender ended up assisting the historic goal that Armour headed in with a great delivery off a corner kick.
“I knew Ben Bender had good service, it was an out swinging ball, so I started from the penalty spot, came to the front post, and found that I was pretty unmarked,” Armour describes the unforgettable moment.
“I just tried to calculate the flight of the ball and get my head on it and put it somewhere towards goal. Thankfully, because of Ben’s good ball I was able to do that, and it happened to go in.
“It’s an amazing feeling. Everyone loves to score goals but it being the first one in history is an amazing feeling.”
After Charlotte FC went scoreless in their first two games, it was a focus for team to get the monkey off their backs this match and score that elusive first goal.
“I think it’s important for sure... I feel like now that the first goal has been scored, we have the chances, we have the quality, I feel like the goals are going to start coming and coming. So, I feel like it will be a lot of confidence gained for the team.
It’s not the result we wanted, and it definitely hurts to give up the game like that, but I feel going forward we will have the confidence to score goals and keep the momentum going. It’s a step in the right direction... We know next weekend is another opportunity at home to get that first win.”