U.S. Open Cup

Full Time: Charlotte FC Fall Short of Open Cup Quarterfinals

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Charlotte FC’s U.S. Open Cup run comes to an end on the road at Birmingham Legion FC. Adilson Malanda’s red card for a second yellow early in the second half changed the complexion of the game and CLTFC couldn’t dig themselves out of a 1-0 hole.

First Half

Lineup: Kahlina, Lindsey, Malanda, Sobocinski, Mora, Jones, Bronico, Hegardt, Cambridge, Swiderski, Vargas

The first half got off to a slow start as Birmingham Legion FC were content to sit in below the halfway line, absorb pressure, and hit on the counter. Charlotte FC struggled to break them down and the first 20 minutes of the game plodded along.

The first real flash of danger came in the 24th minute when Derrick Jones floated a good ball over the top to Karol Swiderski, and Birmingham goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg nearly parried the one-time volley into his own net. From there, the matchb – and the crowd – came alive as Birmingham had their first chance on the other end through a blocked Juan Agudelo shot.

Just minutes later, Brandon Cambridge found himself in behind on two separate occasions from two nearly identical Brandt Bronico reverse passes that split the left center back and left back. Cambridge curled a beautiful left-footed curler with the first chance – reminiscent of his first goal against Chicago – that found the back of the net but was waved off for a razor thin offsides. The second was onsides and closer in, but his on-the-ground finish came straight off the post.

Those two chances for the young winger ended up being the best of the first half, as the two sides traded decent spells of possession and a few half chances either way. Swiderski had the highest quality of the chances just seconds before halftime from a Vargas free kick, but his side-footed volley went straight at Spangenberg.

Second Half

Lineup: Kahlina, Lindsey, Malanda, Sobocinski, Mora, Jones, Bronico, Hegardt, Cambridge, Swiderski, Vargas

Substitutions: Tuiloma, Meram, Westwood, Agyemang, Byrne

The half got off to a torrid start for CLTFC, as center back Adilson Malanda was sent off, changing the entire complexion of the game. He was isolated on the right side and took down Birmingham winger Tyler Pasher for his second yellow of the match after receiving his first for a tactical foul in the first half.

Head Coach Christian Lattanzio quickly inserted Bill Tuiloma into the game with Chris Hegardt sacrificed to shore up the defense.

Prosper Kassim then opened the scoring for Birmingham in the 60th minute, capping off strong combination play down the right side with a left-footed finish from range to the bottom corner. Kristijan Kahlina made a crucial save from close range just minutes later to keep the match in range for CLTFC.

The Crown started taking more risks and found a foothold in the game through Justin Meram, freshly in the game for Brandon Cambridge. He earned a free kick in a dangerous area and nearly got on the end of Swiderski’s subsequent delivery, before seeing an excellent cut back cross fall to him on the top of the eighteen. His one-time shot was blocked well by the Birmingham defender.

On the other end in the 77th minute, Kahlina made yet another outstanding stop to give his side a fighting chance, getting an outstretched hand on a shot destined for the bottom corner. Agudelo put it in the back of the net a minute later but was in a clear offside position.

The score was still 1-0 to the Legion in the 81st minute when Lattanzio introduced his last gambit of three substitutions, with Patrick Agyemang, Ashley Westwood, and Nathan Byrne all entering the game. This changed the formation to essentially a 3-2-4 to go all-out for the equalizer.

Agyemang quickly made his mark, battling his way in behind but firing a shot wide of the post and nearly getting his head on a good cross. After that, Birmingham defended well and were able to kill off the remaining time in the game to move on to the quarterfinals.

Next up, Charlotte FC continue their road stand with an away match on the West Coast at the LA Galaxy.

Marvel Hero Night | CLT v CIN

Marvel Hero Night | CLT v CIN

Fans Assemble. Upper bowl tickets start at $15.

Marvel Hero Night in Honor of Military Appreciation is on Saturday, July 8.