Press Recaps

Ashley Westwood: "We’ve had a reality check"

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Charlotte FC’s clash with Minnesota United was a sobering experience, to say the least. After maintaining an unbeaten home record for 13 consecutive matches, as all good things do, it came to an end. The Crown couldn’t tame the visiting Loons to prolong their streak as they tasted defeat for the first time at Bank of America Stadium since May 2023.

“We just can't play like that in this league, you get punished,” remarked a visibly disappointed Ashley Westwood after the match. “We’ve had a reality check today.”

In the opening 12 minutes, it seemed like the fans were in for another thrilling home match. Winger Kerwin Vargas was active early on in two plays that almost resulted in goals. The first was a shot that narrowly missed over a swift counterattack in the 4th minute, and a cross to Liel Abada on the far post who narrowly missed connecting in the 12th minute.

Had those opportunities been converted, Charlotte could have potentially held a 2-0 lead, putting them in a strong position to extend their unbeaten home record to 14 matches.

“Goals change games, they always do,” remarked Head Coach Dean Smith on the match.


He particularly lamented the team's failure to capitalize on their chances in the first half. Instead, Minnesota found their way into the match, and by halftime, Charlotte found themselves trailing by a goal due to a top-notch finish from Tani Oluwaseyi in the 31st minute.

“They scored a really good goal out of nothing,” explained Smith. “A ball over the top that we didn’t deal with for most of the game, and a really good finish.

“But the biggest blow was the second goal that killed the game... but I will take responsibility for the players' performance today.”

After two quick successive goals early in the second half, it was job done for The Loons. They secured a comfortable lead and were content to withstand Charlotte’s advances.

“A lot of teams will come in and pack their defense because we've been so strong here and try to catch us on the counterattack, and that's what it felt like Minnesota came to do today,” observed Smith. “There were enough opportunities for us to create and score goals but we never showed that quality."

Having their unbeaten run snapped was not how Charlotte envisioned the beginning of a crucial stretch where they played six of their next nine matches at home. Nonetheless, there are plenty of points to be earned, so Smith's focus now is on lifting his players' spirits and preparing them for their next match against New York City FC on the road.

“My job now is to lift the players because it’s a small step backwards, but I’ve got enough belief in this group that they will come back from it,” affirmed Smith.