CHARLOTTE – What seemed on the surface as a comfortable 3 – 0 for Charlotte FC was actually much tougher than what the final score showed. D.C. United made CLTFC work for the win and interim head coach Christian Lattanzio recognizes just how much of an effort it took to beat the Black and Red.
“[I feel] very good because I think it was not an easy game... Take away the table, I think we see it's a good team, with good players, with good coaches way... So for me, it was a difficult game. People can only see superficially these games but I'm very proud of how the boys played because this is a team that if you let them play, they will take over, and we didn't want that to happen. So, I'm very proud of the way how our boys played tonight.”
Fans may have been surprised with Lattanzio starting the young American midfield duo of Ben Bender and Quinn McNeill but in a system that requires high intensity, their youthful energy fits perfectly.
“These guys bring a lot of energy to the table, they can play in the system that we want to play. And they show they have the qualities that the team needs... So I had no doubts to play them. And I think that if we all are on the same wavelength, the way you want to play with or without the ball, you minimize the lack of experience because everybody does a job that they are comfortable with."
Another young American that has been making a big impact is winger McKinze Gaines who was threatening all night long and set up the third goal for McNeill. However, it’s also his willingness to press and track back on defense that allows him to impact the match on both sides.
“McKinze for me is a very, very strong talent. He has speed and also can control at speed. When he runs at players he scares everybody. He showed already against Chelsea, they were not happy playing against him and these are some of the best players in the world.
“But I hope that the people saw the other side of McKinze who is also very good without the ball. So when he presses the opposing team and he closes down opponents, and especially in the second half, I felt that we were a little bit more forceful. And it made it difficult for D.C. to play the game they want to play.”
D.C. were the very first opponent that Charlotte faced in MLS in a match that resulted in a 3 – 0 loss. This time around, the score line was flipped in favor of the Crown, almost as a representation of the progress the club has made in their inaugural season.
“That was our first game in our history so there was a lot of energy, but now, it's time to channel this energy. I think the result shows the progress that this club has made.”