Leagues Cup

Charlotte FC’s Leagues Cup Dream Continues Behind Agyemang Spark


In the Round of 16 versus Houston Dynamo FC, CLTFC trailed for most of the night until Patrick Agyemang entered the match late on. The young forward scored a trademark breakaway goal before an own goal mere seconds later booked the Crown a spot in the Quarterfinals against Inter Miami CF and Lionel Messi.

First Half

Lineup: Kahlina, Lindsey, Malanda, Privett, Byrne, Westwood, Bronico, Arfield, Vargas, Swiderski, Meram

Charlotte FC Head Coach Christian Lattanzio made just one change from the starting eleven that took down Cruz Azul in a penalty kick shootout last Thursday, inserting Kerwin Vargas on the left wing in place of Justin Meram.

Both sets of players seemed accustomed to the Texas heat and the energy of the match was high from the beginning as challenges flew in over the opening 10 minutes.

Houston found the first breakthrough behind a Corey Baird goal in the 11th minute. Baird scored the side-footed volley goal, and Nelson Quinones dinked it to the back post for the primary assist, but right wingback Griffin Dorsey really created the chance by spinning Vargas at midfield and driving all the way to the top of the Charlotte FC box.

The Dynamo crafted a few more quality opportunities soon after but were unable to carve out the final shot on goal. By the 20th minute, CLTFC had found a partial foothold in the match again, dominating more of the possession and creating some flashes of danger from clever Scott Arfield flicks in and around the box.

However, Dorsey continued to cause problems a few minutes later, driving inside of Vargas again and to the top of the box in a carbon copy from the first goal. The ball ended up cut back to Adalberto Carrasquilla, whose dangerous shot was blocked out for a corner.

From there, the pace of play slowed significantly until closer to halftime when the Crown captured some momentum and had a flurry of late chances.

In the 41st minute, Ashley Westwood forced a turnover high up the field and juggled the ball to Arfield’s head, who flicked it on well to Brandt Bronico. The American had good space in behind, but he blazed his volley well wide from a tight angle. Later in stoppage time, an awkward looping ball bounced off the Houston crossbar straight back to Karol Swiderski, but it came at him at a weird angle and the Dynamo forced the ball clear. Even later still, Adilson Malanda got up well to meet a Westwood corner on the near post, but his glanced header sailed wide, and the Crown went into halftime down 1-0.

Second Half

Lineup: Kahlina, Lindsey, Malanda, Privett, Byrne, Westwood, Bronico, Arfield, Vargas, Swiderski, Meram

Substitutions: Meram (60’), Dejaegere (60’), Agyemang (72’), Bender (72’), Jones (88’)

The first 10 minutes of the second half started out hot and intense, just like the first half. Both teams created some dangerous moments early, but Charlotte FC had the best of the lot in the 54th minute. Jaylin Lindsey got space to cross after good interplay with Kamil Jozwiak and picked out a wide-open Vargas on the back post. The point-blank volley cannoned straight off Clark’s chest, who knew little about it but stood strong for the save.

With still a half hour to play, Lattanzio made quick substitutions to keep control of the match. Meram replaced Vargas and new signing Brecht Dejaegere came on for Arfield, making his debut with the number 10 on his back.

Adilson Malanda and Andrew Privett had another solid showing as a center back pairing, with Malanda keeping the team in the game in the 66th minute. The Dynamo broke the CLTFC press and found themselves in a numbers up counter, working space for Corey Baird. His one-time shot was destined for the bottom corner until Malanda read the play perfectly and cleared it from the line.

With that, the Charlotte FC coaching staff decided on more changes, this time bringing Ben Bender on for Jozwiak and Patrick Agyemang – the MLS NEXT Pro Player of the Month – in for Swiderski. The young duo made an immediate difference by getting Agyemang in behind, but he scuffed his shot into Clark’s arms.

Then, in a blockbuster span of seconds, the match flipped completely on its head with 10 minutes remaining. Agyemang would not be denied on his second opportunity, bullying the Houston center back for a ball sent over the top by Jaylin Lindsey. He rounded the keeper with his next touch and tapped in the equalizing goal.

Straight after from the kickoff, Micael Dos Santos played a blind ball back to his goalkeeper. The two were on completely different pages, the ball rolled straight into the back of the net, and suddenly Charlotte FC found themselves in front 2-1 for the first time on the night.

The match went into overdrive as Houston pushed for an equalizer in the minutes following CLTFC’s second goal. Aliyu Ibrahim had two clear opportunities, first scuffing a clear breakaway wide of Kahlina’s goal and then having a close-range effort unluckily bounce straight to the keeper’s waiting arms.

Derrick Jones entered for Westwood to secure the midfield and Charlotte FC then survived through seven minutes of stoppage time. When the full time whistle finally arrived, the Crown secured a dramatic 2-1 victory and booked a date with Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami CF in the Quarterfinals.