RICHMOND – A heavily rotated side for Charlotte FC got the job done against the Richmond Kickers to advance to the U.S. Open Cup round of 16. It was a convincing 5 - 1 win for the Crown as they were able to recover from a slow start to comfortably win the match.
It was a first half that started in typical Open Cup fashion – it was sloppy, gritty, and sluggish. The Kickers came out on the front foot, pressing high, and forcing Charlotte FC into some nervy moments early.
The Kickers looked motivated and were in control for the majority of the first 15 minutes. Eventually, CLTFC started to settle into the match, slowly taking over possession. Despite having more of the ball, they struggled to break down the Kickers.
The better scoring chances came for the home side, but CLTFC goalkeeper George Marks came up clutch for the visitors on a couple occasions. However, in the 34th minute, a mishit from Yordy Reyna takes a lucky bounce in the box and Daniel Ríos was able to pounce on it to give Charlotte the lead.
Less than 10 minutes into the second half the Kickers tied up the score with a deflected goal from midfielder Zacarias Moran. Things were looking up for the Kickers but it all went downhill for them from there.
CLTFC immediately responded with a goal from a clever one-two between Reyna and Titi Ortiz that Reyna finished – opening the floodgates for the Crown. CLTFC scored two more goals within the next 7 minutes, both coming from winger McKinze Gaines. Andre Shinyashiki added to the goal tally with a late goal in the 86th minute.
"Now in terms of depth, we are more compensated. We are also able to change the formation in one moment, having more wingers. We were playing a 442 because of the lack of wingers. Now we are able to have more players per position. Flexibility and depth.”
Last week, head coach Miguel Ramírez had this to say about the state of his roster after the most recent additions. Depth was a question mark coming into the season, especially with Club having to balance playing on two fronts: MLS and U.S. Open Cup. Charlotte played a fully rotated squad against the Kickers which despite a shaky start made short work of them.
Being able to rest the majority of your starters is crucial with a big weekend match-up just a few days later. Depth will continue to play a critical role not only in the Open Cup but also for the remainder of still a long MLS season ahead.