CHARLOTTE – In a match where Charlotte FC did almost everything right, a 1 – 0 loss against Austin FC will be a tough pill to swallow. But one moment of brilliance (or luck) from a resilient Austin FC side helped ATXFC come away with all three points.
In the first five seconds, Austin's Felipe committed a hard foul on Charlotte’s Titi Ortiz, which set the tone for what would be a physical battle throughout the night. Both sides came out unafraid to try and impose themselves as the struggle for control ensued in the opening minutes.
As the first half progressed, the Crown were slowly coming out on top of the tug-of-war. Charlotte pressed high, suffocating Austin in their own half for large portions of the match. But despite creating chances, and limiting Austin’s, CLTFC couldn’t break through going into the half.
Charlotte did not let up their pressure in the second half, coming literal inches away from scoring the opener when a chip from Titi Ortiz hit the post in the 52nd minute. It looked like the match was in CLTFC’s control but once again it took a wonder goal to silence Bank of America Stadium.
It was a rocket from Austin substitute Daniel Perreira that bounced off the crossbar and in the goal that put Austin undeservedly ahead. As disheartening as it was to concede, CLTFC kept their head high and continued to push for the equalizer.
For the rest of the half, Austin had to resort to sitting in a low block to defend against the relentless flurry of Charlotte attacks. Ultimately, CLTFC’s lack of quality in the final third allowed Austin to slip away with a fortunate win.
Austin may have been sitting 3rd in the Western Conference but that didn’t deter Charlotte from high pressing the 2nd highest ranked offense in MLS. And it worked.
We have seen CLTFC occasionally attempt to press high, but not to the degree we saw against Austin. As a team who likes to take risks and play out of the back, Charlotte was going to get opportunities to force mistakes through pressing high.
However, pressing high without organization can be catastrophic. But the Crown looked like a well-oiled machine as they moved in unison to get to every player and passing lane. Austin was forced to resort to playing long, which eliminated the influence of their MVP contender, Sebastián Driussi.
And even though the final result didn’t reflect a mostly dominant performance from Charlotte, it served as lesson that this team can impose their game against the highest of opponents.