Charlotte FC is gearing up for the second match of their three-game week, which takes place at home against the Philadelphia Union. The team holds fond memories of their previous encounter with the Union at Bank of America Stadium and aims to recreate that magic.
Here are the three ingredients of the match:
Develop a Clinical Edge
Charlotte FC's recent matches have been marked by their ability to dominate possession and advance towards their opponent's final third. Their build-up play has been commendable, characterized by precise passing and tactical awareness. However, the challenge arises when they reach the final third – the place where matches are often won or lost.
To turn draws into wins, Charlotte FC must address their issues in the final third. Being "ruthless" in this area - in Head Coach Christian Lattanzio’s own words - means taking calculated risks, making incisive passes, and taking shots on goal when the opportunity presents itself. The team's attackers need to develop a clinical edge, converting their chances into goals. This will not only boost their goal-scoring tally but also increase their chances of winning the crucial matches ahead.
While the point is a bit obvious (score more goals equals win more games!), it still remains the missing step between draws and wins for CLTFC. When defender Jere Uronen was asked in post-match media availability what the team needed to do to get all three points against Philadelphia, he said, "obviously, score" to a chorus of laughs. He quickly clarified that he didn't mean the comment in a bad way against his teammates, saying that the team has really improved as a unit and built a good base since Leagues Cup. Attacking and defending are ultimately team efforts in soccer, after all.
Regardless, though, CLTFC will need to start converting more of the many chances they have been creating as of late to continue their run up the table to the playoff positions.
Clean Sheet Confidence
One of the most significant positives of Charlotte FC's recent match against D.C. United was earning a clean sheet. After having recent games slip away from them in the final minutes, The Crown remained strong and focused on defense with a good collective showing and even more impressive individual performances from the back five. Kristijan Kahlina earned a spot on the Team of the Week bench for his play, and the back four in front of him looked solid as Adilson Malanda and Andrew Privett continue to build great chemistry in their center back partnership.
Keeping consecutive clean sheets will not only guarantee at least a point but also instill confidence in the team. Clean sheets are the foundation of success in football and serve as the launching pad for everything else.
It's another clear-cut point, but clean sheets have generally been hard to come by for CLTFC this season, so continuing this defensive success will make earning wins a much easier task.
Capitalize Before the Away Stretch
Charlotte FC finds itself with a last chance to make the most of their home advantage before embarking on a daunting two-match stretch away from home. Leveraging these matches at Bank of America Stadium is pivotal for establishing momentum and making strides up the league standings.
"At home, we want all three," Uronen said in that same post-match media availability. "Philly is a good team, so it's not going to be easy."
The upcoming match against the Union, who sit in the top four of the Eastern Conference for a reason, is poised to be a true test of Charlotte FC's resilience. Nonetheless, it is absolutely imperative that they get the most out of their last home game before this challenging away stretch. The energy emanating from the home crowd, coupled with their impressive 4-0 victory against the Union last season, possesses the potential to serve as a formidable motivator—a resource that Charlotte FC must harness to secure these pivotal points.
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KICK CHILDHOOD CANCER | CLT v PHI
Theme Night: Kick Childhood Cancer. Gate Giveaway: First fans in attendance will receive a special edition CLTFC Scarf, presented by Atrium Health.