CHARLOTTE – Defender Anton Walkes had no doubts that they could come away with three points against the reigning MLS champions, New York City FC. He had no doubts because of the way he sees the intensity he and his teammates train on a daily basis, so it was only a matter do time before the team’s effort would be rewarded with a positive result.
“I always believed we could do it. I see the way we train day in and day out. We practice so much on being resilient and you have to showcase it more. From what our coach has said we have set our goal from now to the end of the season to pick up as many points as possible and there is no better way to start off.”
A theme in CLTFC’s recent matches has been playing well and controlling possession but ending up on the wrong side of the final result. This time around they were rewarded with a win and Walkes feels that it’s been a long time coming because as a group, they feel they’ve improved but the results never showcased it.
“We have a top coach. It’s not easy to change philosophies and implement what we want to do during the course of a season. Some teams have a whole preseason and even more time to get things going. It’s been difficult, obviously because results haven’t always showcased our improvement.
Today, we can’t fault what we’ve been working on and we showcased it. In the first half, when the numbers were equal, they weren’t a threat to us. It’s just about a bit of consistency, we have to get some momentum, and we really need to push on from now.”
Walkes was one of the first to run towards his teammate McKinze Gaines after he was shoved by NYCFC's Alexander Callens. Walkes says he doesn't shy away from these moments because he says it is vital that the whole team has the mentality of fighting for one another in every aspect.
"If someone tries one of my teammates they have to deal with me too. Hopefully, they will say the same thing about me. It has be like that when you're on the field. It's a part of everything. When you're playing you have to have someone's back and they have your back, and it has to translate in every single thing we do."
There are certainly many who have given up on Charlotte FC’s playoff chances but the team is using that doubt to fuel them in the final stretch of the season. The focus is on earning as many points as possible in these last matches to at least give the team a shot at playoffs... crazier things have happened in MLS.
“There is a chip on our shoulder. A lot of people are trying to count us out and we’ve had to deal with a lot of critics from the start of the season, not just recently. Not everybody gets to see what the team is like day in and day out.
“We have a great team, great staff, great everybody. Everybody is playing a part in trying to build something. We’re in a position where we can finish the season with our heads held high and who knows what can happen.... it’s the playoff and that’s the goal.”
Anton Walkes Press Conference | Charlotte FC vs New York City FC