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CHARLOTTE – While many have counted out Charlotte FC for making playoffs, interim head coach Christian Lattanzio and his players strongly believe the team is still alive. 

“Our goal this week is to make sure that we are fresh and ready to go because I don’t want to think that we are just at the end of the season, but rather almost as a new season starts. It’s a season of five games, and we need to be competing at our best in those five games.  

“I want the team to be alive, everybody thinks that we are not, that we are out but we are not. The guys trained with passion and intensity this week and we want to show this to our fans on Saturday.” 

Lattanzio goes on to say that one of his duties is to step back and look at the bigger picture. Despite results not going in the team’s favor recently, he reminds the team that there are still a lot of positives to take from the performances that can serve as “seeds” that will grow and improve with time. 

“An important part of my job is to look at the bigger picture to step back, and not to throw away all the good job that the boys do in the game. Where we have a solid way of playing, we create chances, we often, at least in the last couple of games, we created more than the opposition, and we have at least the right to deserve a point.  

“But in football, you can play as very well and still lose the game. So we need to address that.” 

Up next, Charlotte FC are going up against the team they last beat, New York City FC. They are facing an NYCFC team that hasn’t won in nine straight matches, but Lattanzio stresses that they must respect the reigning champions of MLS despite their form. 

“They are the champions. So first and foremost, we need to respect them, like respect every team, but even more so the champions, because even last year, it looked like they were not close to winning it all and in the end, they found the strength and found a way to do it.  

“So, we need to look at them as a dangerous team with many, many good players, some that I know really well and so I know how good they are, and how dangerous they can be. We need to be very focused on our game, to be really determined, and to be ready to run hard and with intensity for 90 minutes and plus.” 

The Crown have 15 points up for grab in their last five matches of the season and if history has told us anything it's that anything can happen in Major League Soccer. Lattanzio reiterates that the belief is still there within the team but that the team needs to play harder and more focused than ever.

"All of them [Charlotte FC players] are really pushing hard in training, all of them being very alive and kicking. The way we approach these games is like mini-season of five games. We will take one game at a time and focus on that. We will need to play strong on every ball and do our best in every play. Be clear about what is our role and responsibility in every play. Then after we will see where we are."