Press Recaps

Ashley Westwood: "I've never been in a game like that in my life"


As the final whistle sounded in Charlotte FC's 2-0 victory over the defending MLS Cup Champions, Columbus Crew, a singular emotion surged to the forefront for all in attendance, including Head Coach Dean Smith.

“Relief,” described Smith.

The match featured perhaps the most bizarre first half in MLS history, marked by disallowed goals, a missed penalty, a red card, and an additional 15-plus minutes of stoppage time and beyond. It was the longest first half in MLS history. Honestly, it’s worth re-reading The Full Time Clip for the full insanity recap.


“I've never been in a game like that in my life,” said Ashley Westwood. Dean Smith agreed: “I’ve never done 62 minutes in the first half. That’s crazy.”

After that first half marathon, the second half saw Charlotte relentlessly striving to break through a resilient Columbus side that was down to ten men. As minutes ticked by, the pressure intensified on Charlotte to capitalize on their man advantage. By the 80th minute, fans sensed the urgency, rallying behind their team with chants reverberating throughout Bank of America Stadium.

It was the final push the players needed.

Just three minutes later, captain Ashley Westwood unlocked the Crew’s defense with a stunning goal from outside the penalty box. He failed a similar attempt just minutes earlier but was sure not to make that mistake twice. He credited his coach for putting him in a position to get that second chance.

“It was coming,” said Westwood, smiling with media after the match. “I should have scored the first one. Scotty Arfield reminded me as soon as we got in [off the pitch].

“The gaffer made a quick change, he put me higher up top, and it just arrived. Thankfully, it’s gone in the net and put us on the way to three points.”

Westwood wasn’t the only one to open his 2024 scoring account. Patrick Agyemang stepped up for the injured Enzo Copetti to seal the statement win for Charlotte and continue the perfect record at home early in this 2024 season.

I’m a striker, you know?” said Agyemang when discussing what it felt like to score his goal. “I want to score goals. I want to impact the team in a positive way.

“I always believe the first goal [of the season] is always going to be the toughest. To finally do it tonight, it’s great in front of the fans, and now I just need to carry on this momentum.”

Agyemang was quick to shift praise to the fans who he credited for the extra push the team needed to earn the win.

“I always get another adrenaline rush when I’m playing at the Bank,” said Agyemang. “Just hearing everyone screaming and supporting us, no matter what’s happening... there’s always constant support. We’re forever grateful, and we just want to keep providing wins for them.”

Smith tasked his team with making a bold statement against the reigning MLS Champions leading up to this match. They delivered precisely that, simultaneously sending a message to the rest of the league that Bank of America Stadium is indeed an impregnable fortress.

“We’ve got to make this a real tough place like we did today,” said Smith. “The Columbus Crew are the MLS holders, they were unbeaten this season, and I think we’ve drawn a line in the sand of what we can do here.

“But I don’t want to just do it here at this stadium. I want to do it on the road as well.”

The Crown will have their chance to prove they can earn all three points on the road later, but for now, the focus shifts to defending their fortress against the 2023 MLS Supporter’s Shield winner, FC Cincinnati, this coming Saturday.