Charlotte FC faces off against the side they started the 2023 season against, New England Revolution.
Here are the three ingredients of the match:
Exploiting Tactical Shift
Since the appointment of Clint Peay as the interim head coach of the New England Revolution, a significant system overhaul has been initiated. Peay has shown no hesitation in making bold tactical changes, transitioning the team to a more modern 3-2-2-3 formation during possession.
Implementing such a drastic shift at this stage of the season is a daring move. The new system was first put to the test in New England's recent match against the Chicago Fire, which ended in a draw on the road. However, during this game, there were moments of vulnerability that Chicago managed to exploit.
One noteworthy tactical adjustment by Peay was his utilization of Matt Polster, typically a midfielder, in the left-back position. This decision allowed Chicago to exploit the space behind him on the right-hand side, a potential weakness that Charlotte might also look to capitalize on.
The Revolution have enjoyed significant success from set pieces, largely due to their size and determination, resulting in nine goals scored from corners this season alone. In their lineup against the Fire, there were only two players standing under five foot 10 inches, making them one of the taller teams in MLS.
Furthermore, they boast one of the league's top playmakers in Carles Gil, who can deliver precise passes to set up his taller teammates. When facing the Revolution, Charlotte must prioritize defending against aerial threats and strategically position themselves to safeguard effectively against both open play and set pieces.
Final Touch of Quality
A recurring theme in the closing stages of this season has been the lack of that final touch of quality in offensive moments for The Crown.
Captain Ashley Westwood commented on this after the 3-0 loss to FC Cincinnati, saying, “We’ve had the majority of the ball, more passes, more crosses in the box, but we need to work on that final bit of quality. That’s the only thing that is missing.”
The team's style of play has allowed them to penetrate into the opponent's final third relatively easily, building up from the back and reaching advantageous positions. However, it's that last shot, the crucial pass, and individual creativity that have been missing to unlock the floodgates of scoring opportunities.
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