Full Time

Full Time: Charlotte FC Lose on the Road at FC Cincinnati


Charlotte FC never got into second gear in their away match at FC Cincinnati. The league-leaders punished CLTFC mistakes on the night, storming out to a 3-0 win behind MVP favorite Lucho Acosta.

First Half

Lineup: Kahlina, Lindsey, Malanda, Privett, Byrne, Westwood, Bronico, Swiderski, Dejaegere, Meram, Copetti

FC Cincinnati started the game strong in their home stadium, where they had only lost two matches out of their last 25 coming into the night. Their attacking triumvirate of Brandon Vazquez, Aaron Boupendza, and MVP frontrunner Lucho Acosta combined well for some early chances.

Kristijan Kahlina and Nathan Byrne, though, did their part to keep the match scoreless in that period. Kahlina made two big saves – a strong right hand on an attempted Lucho Acosta bicycle kick and then a smart stop by closing down the angle quickly on Brandon Vazquez. Byrne covered the space in behind excellently, twice winning free kicks inside the box in dangerous scenarios by shielding the ball.

The English defender then outdid himself in the 34th minute. An early cross found Boupendza, who snuck his shot past an onrushing Kahlina. However, Byrne was there instinctively covering the space in behind again, sliding in at the last moment and clearing the goal-bound shot away.

Ultimately, though, FC Cincinnati earned their reward for the sustained pressure and bagged the opener from a free kick in the 45th minute. Alvaro Barreal curled a free kick into the top corner, leaving Kahlina no chance to save it. However, there was some controversy that an FC Cincinnati player was too close to the Charlotte FC wall by law for the goal to stand, but referee Jair Marrufo was uninterested and the play did not go to VAR.

Second Half

Lineup: Kahlina, Lindsey, Malanda, Privett, Byrne, Westwood, Bronico, Swiderski, Dejaegere, Meram, Copetti

Substitutions: Jones (60’), Vargas (60’), Jozwiak (83’), Agyemang (83’), Gaines (83’)

Cincinnati continued their momentum straight from the opening whistle of the second half. A small mistake from Andrew Privett allowed Acosta to gain possession in a dangerous area, and he squared it back to Boupendza who nailed his finish into the top corner for a two-goal advantage.

Head Coach Christian Lattanzio made two substitutes just before the 60th minute, changing Jaylin Lindsey and Enzo Copetti in favor of Derrick Jones and Kerwin Vargas. This put CLTFC into a much more aggressive posture as they went to a back three with Meram and Vargas as advanced wingbacks.

The match really opened up from there, and Charlotte created a lot more in the offensive third. On the other end, though, Cincinnati consistently threatened on the counter attacks led by Acosta, and Vazquez squandered one particularly good look at goal.

Lucho Acosta finally sealed the match on one of those counters and showed exactly why he is the runaway leader for the MLS MVP award. He picked up the ball in his own half and scored a brilliant solo goal, dribbling away from Adilson Malanda and Privett before finishing with power to the top corner.

Lattanzio responded with his final three substitutes, bringing on Kamil Jozwiak, Patrick Agyemang, and McKinze Gaines. Dejaegere, Swiderski, and Meram all exited.

The changes mattered little in the end, as a poor performance from CLTFC led to a loss on the road. Next up, the team has a full week to rest and prepare for a bounce-back match away at the New England Revolution.