Leagues Cup

Full Time: Two Points Coming Home In Inaugural Leagues Cup Match

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In Leagues Cup opener, Charlotte FC come from behind twice in the second half to force a penalty shootout for an extra point. Ben Bender equalized for the Crown late on and Patrick Agyemang delivered the winner in the penalty kick shootout to take home two points, leaving FC Dallas with just one.

First Half

Lineup: Kahlina, Lindsey, Privett, Sobocinski, Westwood, Bronico, Arfield, Jozwiak, Swiderski, Meram

Charlotte FC’s Leagues Cup debut, their first of two Group Stage matches, got off to a slow start in hot conditions at FC Dallas’s Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. Neither team took hold of proceedings in the opening 20 minutes, but Jaylin Lindsey nearly gifted a breakaway to Dallas forward Bernard Kamungo when he left a back pass to Kristijan Kahlina short. Fortunately, the Croatian came to the rescue, charging sharply off his line to close down the angle before Jan Sobocinski recovered to get the ball clear.

Outside of that one heart-in-mouth moment, the match settled into a rhythm of spells of possession without much final product. Kamil Jozwiak had a penalty shout in the 27th minute, but the referee whistled for a foul on the Polish forward the other way. Regardless of the decision, the foul would have occurred outside the box and play resumed.

After a quick hydration break due to the searing Texas heat, FC Dallas’s Kamungo continued to create problems for the Crown. First, a poorly sliced shot on the edge of the area bounced straight to the Dallas winger, who took a quick half-volley straight into Kahlina’s arms. Shortly after, he went on an electric run from end-to-end but got his early cross to Ferreira all wrong at the final hurdle.

Right before the halftime break, Kamungo got his reward by finishing off a good move from the Dallas front three. Jader Obrian ran in behind Andrew Privett and eventually laid it off to Ferreira. The US Men’s National Team forward waited patiently to force Nathan Byrne to pinch inside and then rolled it directly into Kamungo’s path, who slotted the ball past a helpless Kahlina to take a 1-0 advantage to the locker room.

Second Half

Lineup: Kahlina, Lindsey, Privett, Sobocinski, Westwood, Bronico, Arfield, Jozwiak, Swiderski, Meram

Substitutions: Bender (79’), Vargas (79’), Cambridge (85’), Agyemang (89’)

FC Dallas picked up in the second half right where they left off by forcing their way into the CLTFC box and setting up a clear shot from the penalty spot. Kahlina, though, was up to the task and made the early save to keep the deficit at one.

Charlotte FC responded well over the next 15 minutes and slowly ramped up the pressure. In the 60th minute, Karol Swiderski held the ball up just inside the box with Sebastian Ibeagha behind him. As he fought to keep possession of the ball, the defender caught him on his left foot and the referee pointed to the spot for a penalty. Swiderski coolly and calmly sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to level matters for the Crown.

Just a few minutes later, Ashley Westwood pinged Kamil Jozwiak in behind. Jozwiak smartly held the play up and laid the ball off for Scott Arfield arriving on the top of the box. Arfield finished brilliantly to the far post for what Charlotte FC – and the stadium presentation – thought was their second goal as music played over the speakers. However, Arfield’s finish had gone straight over a ducking Swiderski, who was in an offside position obstructing the goalkeeper’s line of sight, and the goal was correctly ruled out.

From there, the pressure and intensity of the match really ratcheted up. After an FC Dallas forward went down in the box in a way that CLTFC captain Ashley Westwood felt was a soft manner, a scrum kicked off with players from both sides involved in multiple shoving matches. Somehow, only Westwood and Dallas’s Geovane Jesus were given yellow cards by the time order was restored.

The match began to open up with more end-to-end action in just five minutes than in the previous 70 minutes combined. Unfortunately, CLTFC came out on the wrong end of the action. Just after Karol Swiderski stole the ball off a Dallas defender and forced a good save, FC Dallas came the other way on the counter attack. Sebastian Lletget found space on the right side of the box and fired home a left-footed curler similar to Kamungo’s opener.

After another hydration break, Head Coach Christian Lattanzio made two quick changes to spark a comeback – Ben Bender entered for Arfield and Kerwin Vargas replaced Justin Meram. He later brought Brandon Cambridge on for Jozwiak and Patrick Agyemang for Jaylin Lindsey, as well.

In the 84th minute, with CLTFC pushing numbers forward in search of an equalizer, Ferreira was sent in behind the defense. Lindsey did well to sprint back and force the striker to take his shot early, and Kahlina made another strong 1 v 1 stop to keep the game in reach.

With the match seemingly slipping away, Patrick Agyemang battled to win a free kick in the center of the pitch, gifting the team a final chance at some late magic. Westwood curled in a great ball to the back post, and Ben Bender stretched out to get his left foot on the ball and guide it into the far post for a clutch last-minute equalizer.

Per Leagues Cup rules, Group Stage matches that end in a draw go straight to penalty kicks with no overtime periods. The team that wins the penalty kick shootout gains an extra point for a total of two points, while the loser takes home only the one point for the draw in regulation.

In the shootout’s opening two rounds, Charlotte FC stormed out to a 2-0 advantage. Swiderski roofed his penalty with power and Bender scored his left-footed strike bar down. Kahlina came up with two strong saves in a row, diving to his right on Lletget and to his left on Farfan.

Brandon Cambridge dispatched his penalty to the bottom corner and Ferreira put his in just past the outstretched hand of Kahlina, setting up Patrick Agyemang to win the shootout on Charlotte FC’s fourth kick out of five.

Agyemang looked calm under the pressure after being in the same position with Crown Legacy FC multiple times already this season. He delivered on the expectations, putting it into the back of the net to secure an extra point.

Next up, Charlotte FC will look to advance as a top two team from the group of three with a positive result against Necaxa at Bank of America Stadium next Saturday.



Charlotte FC vs Necaxa hosted at Bank of America Stadium is officially set for July 29th. Tickets for the revamped competition between Major League Soccer and Liga MX are on sale now.