Things couldn’t have started worse for CLTFC when poor clearances led to a 2nd minute goal for the Whitecaps from Tosaint Ricketts. Charlotte didn't let it slow them down and responded six minutes later with a goal from none other than Andre Shinyashiki, his 3rd for the club in four matches.
It was a lovely cross from Karol Świderski that Shinyashiki headed in to equalize for the Crown. From then on it was all CLTFC. Charlotte was comfortably pushing in Vancouver’s final third and peppering the penalty box with crosses and shots.
Despite dominating the majority of the first half, Charlotte couldn’t break through to get the lead and went into halftime tied up with the Whitecaps. The second half looked much like the first. Charlotte were consistently in and around Vancouver's side of the pitch, looking for ways to penetrate their low block.
In the 65th minute, head coach Miguel Ramírez brought on some attacking substitutes to continue taking the match to the Whitecaps. Most notably, new signing Kerwin Vargas made his MLS debut and was electric. With his first touch, he drove to goal beating two defenders and managed to get a shot on target which was saved.
As time went on, it seemed like the Crown was never going to break through. But in the 85th minute after a fortunate bounce, substitute Daniel Ríos picked up the scraps and buried the game winner. CLTFC left it until the very end and they managed to grab all three points in the last match of their home stretch.
Width Creates Pressure
Charlotte had become predictable to play against. Opponents would sit in a mid defensive block, load numbers up through the middle, and just wait for Charlotte to give up the ball.
Part of the reason why teams could get away with that was that Charlotte lacked width. The 442 diamond they have been running was too narrow but against the Whitecaps the club switched to a 433.
With the added width, it stretched the pitch out forcing the Whitecaps to choose between giving up space through the middle or out wide. On top of this, CLTFC’s midfielders and wingers were continuously switching positions and creating runs in behind, making it difficult for the Whitecap’s players to keep track.
Crucial Three Points
Due to an international break and their slate of upcoming matches, Charlotte FC won't be playing at home for the next 20 days. Capitalizing on the last home match for a while was going to be crucial for the club to stay around the playoff contention spots.
Despite conceding the deflating early goal, Charlotte's players kept their heads high and battled through the adversity. It took some luck but the Crown was relentless in its pursuit of the win and earned a crucial three points heading into the remainder of the month.