MLS's two newest clubs face off this weekend as Charlotte FC heads to St. Louis for their inaugural home match at CITYPARK. It will be an historic night for the expansion side that Charlotte will look to spoil.
Here are the three ingredients to keep an eye on against St. Louis:
Tidy in Build Up
It’s no secret that building up from the back is a staple of this Charlotte side under head coach Christian Lattanzio. Instead of launching the ball over the top, CLTFC prefers to intricately pass and combine their way up the pitch.
Against the New England Revolution, we saw some build up from the Crown that was quick and precise but accompanied by some sloppy play involving loose passes or bad touches. St. Louis’s entire game model aims to capitalize on such instances to catch teams out in transition.
Considering Charlotte already tend to be more vulnerable in transition due to how many players they commit forward, making sure they are tidy in the build will reduce the amount of scoring opportunities St. Louis can generate.
Stick to the Plan
In preseason, Charlotte showed they had clearing attacking patterns they wanted to execute in matches. Instead of sticking to the plan against the Revs the team deviated away from it. Playing more individualistic soccer rather than playing as a collective.
It led to a predictable attack that was disjointed and overly reliant on aimless crosses generating few threatening scoring opportunities for the Crown. As Lattanzio said in his press conference after the Revs – when the team shines individuals do. The team needs to return to their principles and apply their game plan against St. Louis if they want to score goals.
Capitalize on Emotions
Charlotte FC players and fans are no strangers to inaugural home matches. It’s a match that is superfluous with emotions both on and off the pitch. Playing in your first MLS match in front of fans can fill players with added drive and energy they can use to their advantage to play beyond their means.
"It will be a tough game because any inaugural home match is loaded with energy,” said CLTFC goalkeeper Pablo Sisniega looking ahead.
This influx of energy and emotions could also be the host's biggest weakness. They might be overly aggressive or even nervous which could lead to mistakes Charlotte can capitalize on. Staying emotionally composed while facing an emotional St. Louis could prove to be more an opportunity for Charlotte than an advantage for St. Louis.
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