Charlotte FC continues their month on the road in Denver against the Colorado Rapids. Both teams are looking to bounce back from losses to stay within the playoff picture.
Here are the three ingredients of the match to keep an eye on against the Rapids.
Speed It Up
In the previous match against the New England Revolution, Charlotte FC did a great job of getting into and staying in the opponent's half. Something that head coach, Miguel Ramírez has mentioned is one of the team’s goals in order to control matches.
But it’s been in the final attacking third where the team continues to struggle to create chances away from home. There were occasions against the Revolution where the team achieved the numerical superiorities they were seeking but didn’t capitalize on them because of a seeming lack of urgency and/or recognition. At times the speed of play was too slow, and it made it comfortable for the Revolution defensively.
The Rapids have conceded six goals in their previous two matches, so Charlotte FC will get opportunities to score but it will be how quickly they recognize and act on these opportunities that will determine whether they score or not. But playing with speed can be affected by tired legs...
Playing three matches in seven days was always going to be a tough ask. Now add to that, recovering from an intense midweek match that went into overtime three days before you play at altitude in Colorado.
The good news is that most of Charlotte FC’s starters, like Karol Świderski and Guzmán Corujo, were able to get a rest against the Greenville Triumph. However, Ramírez begrudgingly had to play some of them to make sure his team advanced to the next round of the U.S. Open Cup.
Regulars like Christian Fuchs, Ben Bender, Daniel Rios, and Brandt Bronico all saw nearly 60 minutes of action on low-quality turf heading into their next MLS match. All of who have been key players for the Club and played either most or all 90 minutes against the New England Revolution the previous weekend.
Substitutes against the Rapids will play an even bigger role than usual with the inevitable tired legs the players will be feeling. How does the team cope with the fatigue? The travel? And how much will the elevation further affect that? All questions going into what will be a physical and mental test of a match.
The underlying stats show that the Colorado Rapids should be scoring more than they have. The Rapids are no slouch on the offensive side and have created consistent scoring opportunities for themselves but just haven't capitalized on them. At some point, the Rapids will start to put their chances away, and Charlotte FC won’t want it to be against them.
Charlotte FC has been outscored 9 – 2 in away matches, some of them unlucky or due to individual mistakes, but nevertheless have shown vulnerabilities when playing away. The Club will have to be extra sharp in Denver because the Rapids have been a better side when playing at home.
Charlotte FC has conceded goals in the opening 10 minutes of the previous two away matches which is not how you want to start any match, let alone away ones. Staying focused in those opening minutes will be especially important for dictating how the rest of the match goes.
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