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Full Time: Charlotte FC Let Lead Slip, Settle for 2-2 Draw Against Red Bulls

Full Time Red Bulls

First Half

Lineup: Kahlina, Lindsey, Corujo, Malanda, Byrne, Bronico, Bender, Westwood, Vargas, Copetti, Meram

Charlotte FC enjoyed the benefits of an assertive start as Ben Bender stole the limelight with a brace prior to the 20th minute. In the 13th minute, Bender communicated with his eyes and hands his intentions to goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina, indicating precisely where he desired a pass to be placed. Kahlina executed Bender's instructions, delivering the ball precisely to his preferred location, and with remarkable skill, the 21-year-old controlled it flawlessly, positioning himself for the opening goal.

Merely six minutes later, Bender secured a brace by capitalizing on Enzo Copetti's determined pursuit of the ball within the Red Bulls' penalty area. Copetti managed to dispossess his opponent, and the ball rolled directly into Bender's path. With a single touch to set himself up, the young talent unleashed a magnificent curling strike that found its way into the far right post.

With two goals in 19 minutes, Ben Bender now holds the fastest brace in club history surpassing Brandon Cambridge who held the mark after his incredible performance against Chicago.

Following a jolting start, the Red Bulls eventually found their rhythm and managed to establish a degree of control in the game. A period of sustained possession by the home team alleviated the pressure of Charlotte's relentless attack, yet they failed to convert this advantage into goals, entering the halftime break still trailing by a score of 2-0.

Second Half

Lineup: Kahlina, Lindsey, Corujo (66'), Malanda, Byrne, Bronico, Bender (85'), Westwood, Vargas (66'), Copetti (85'), Meram (75')

Substitutes: Jóźwiak (66'), Sobociński (66'), Gaines (75'), Afful (85'), Agyemang (85')

In the second half, the Red Bulls came out a different team and started to successfully capitalize on their advantages. Their comeback began in the 53rd minute, courtesy of halftime substitute Dante Vanzeir, who found the back of the net following a well-executed team move that took advantage of Charlotte's high defensive line.

Charlotte FC had a golden opportunity to regain their two-goal lead when Red Bull goalkeeper Carlos Coronel inexplicably ventured too far from his goal line to receive a pass, resulting in a turnover in his own half. Enzo Copetti attempted a chipped shot towards the unguarded goal, but narrowly missed the target.

The Red Bulls matched Charlotte's quick two-goal burst from the first half with a sequence of their own, as Cameron Harper equalized just five minutes after their first goal. The goal came from a recycled corner that eventually found its way to Harper, who calmly placed a low shot wide of Kristijan Kahlina, who perhaps could have done better in his attempt to save it.

Throughout the rest of the half, Kristijan Kahlina found himself subjected to ceaseless assault from the Red Bulls, who tirelessly sought a winning goal. However, Kahlina exhibited exceptional resilience to thwart the Red Bulls' relentless advances and ensuring his team remained in the contest. Despite the home side's overwhelming control, the last opportunity of the match arose in the 94th minute for Patrick Agyemang, as McKinze Gaines played a perfectly weighted pass to put him through on goal. Nevertheless, Carlos Coronel exhibited excellent positional awareness and closed down the angle, denying Agyemang the decisive goal and preserving the final result at 2-2.