The last time Charlotte FC played the New England Revolution at Bank of America they earned their first win in history with a 3-1 rout. They will look to replicate that this weekend in front of more than 60,000 fans at their season opener.
Here are the three ingredients to keep an eye on against the Revolution:
Expose the Fullbacks
New England boasts arguably one of the best fullback duos in the entirety of MLS in DeJuan Jones and Brandon Bye. Ironically one of their biggest strengths is also their Achilles heel. Revs Head Coach Bruce Arena likes to utilize his fullbacks as the main wide outlets in his system.
They are instructed to push high up the pitch which can leave New England exposed in those wide areas behind them. Getting caught out with counter attacks is something they struggled to address throughout the entirety of last season.
CLTFC’s new striker Enzo Copetti and the wingers alongside him will be particularly key in exposing that space in behind when transitioning. Being aggressive to make runs in behind and connecting passes with those runs can create several scoring opportunities for the Crown.
Argentine and Polish Connection
Last season a lot of the scoring responsibility fell on Karol Świderski’s shoulders. Some of that load will be alleviated with the arrival of Copetti who’s an all-out number nine that complements his Polish teammate.
His arrival allows Świderski to play a more free-floating playmaking role underneath the striker that he thrived in at the end of the 2022 campaign. However, this pairing is still relatively young and their chemistry plays a significant role in their effectiveness.
The two Designated Players have had about a month to get as many reps as possible together. Throughout preseason we’ve seen them combine in spectacular fashion and other times not so much. We’ll see how much this partnership has developed against the Revs and if they are clicking – watch out.
Focus on Principles
Playing a season opener after a four-month hiatus in front of a 60,000 plus crowd will no doubt influence emotions. Whether it’s nerves, anxiety, excitement, or all three, controlling these emotions will be key to starting off on the right foot and setting the tone for the rest of the match.
One of the best ways for the players to stay grounded is to focus on the principles they’ve drilled all preseason long. They’ve had since May last year and an entire preseason under Christian Lattanzio to have a solid understanding of what is demanded from Lattanzio: compactness on defense, dynamism in the attack, and intensity.
The game itself is no different between a preseason match in front of 100 people and 60,000 plus at Bank of America stadium. At the end of the day it’s still the same game; focus on the principles, and shut out the noise.
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