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CHARLOTTE – Charlotte FC’s number one pick, Ben Bender, continues to impress adding a third goal to his total tally this season along with his three assists. Fresh off a tumultuous past two weeks only made getting three points on the day, mean that much more.

“It meant a lot, to give us confidence, to give him [Christian Lattanzio] confidence moving forward. It's not an easy time but I think we stepped up and showed everyone, showed the fans that we are capable of competing against the best teams.

“It’s huge. It feels really good to get three points again. We really want to make the playoffs and be a contender and so it’s huge for us. So yeah, we had a good time in the locker room."

It’s now back-to-back games where Bender scores for his Club. He continues to improve and look more comfortable playing in Major League Soccer. One of the areas he’s made it a goal to work on is his first touch. Sure enough, it was off a beautifully controlled first touch that led to him scoring the opening goal.

“Just one of little details I’ve been working on is getting my first touch under my feet and then playing it quickly. When I was in college, I had a lot more time to take touches into space and now you don’t get that time.

“So I’ve been working over the past four months trying to get the first touch close to my body and then playing quickly. I think today in the first half, the game felt like I could breathe on the ball a bit and dictate where I wanted to play.”

Bender has become a regular for the Crown and it’s been a testament to his mental fortitude and commitment to work tirelessly to earn his spot.

“It’s not a given to be on the field. Every week of training, every day, every game you have to be at your best and that is something I have struggled with. Not being the best player on the field, mentally it’s tough, but having those opportunities given by the coaches, I’m super thankful for those opportunities.

“And I’m just trying to maintain that level, and maintain playing at a high level, and being consistent. It’s definitely a blessing.”