The final score line of 3-1 between Charlotte FC and St. Louis City didn’t tell the full story of the night. After the Crown took the lead in the 26th minute, the first half ended with a brutal down spiral of events that saw them down 2-1 as they went into the break.
“I think if we get to halftime 1-0 it’s a completely different game,” said captain Ashley Westwood. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t do that. The biggest disappointment is that we’ve given three goals, they’ve not had to work for it, that’s the biggest disappointment.”
Charlotte gave up an own goal and a penalty in the last minutes of the first half and then a third from a bad giveaway attempting to pass back to the keeper that was intercepted. Even thoughtthe mistakes were committed by individuals, Head Coach Christian Lattanzio stresses that the entire team owns them starting with himself.
“We are in this all together,” said Lattanzio. “One guy can make a mistake, but we all own it. Me first. If there is someone responsible for that, it is not Bill, it’s not Adi, it’s not Karol for the penalty, it’s me. I take all the responsibility and blame that has to be taken.”
Despite the deflating result there were some positives to take from the performance starting with striker Enzo Copetti opening his MLS scoring account in emphatic fashion. Karol S!widerski whipped in a cross that the Argentine perfectly redirected into the bottom left corner of the goal to give Charlotte the lead in the 26th minute.
Christian Lattanzio believes that Copetti is only improving with every match stretching back to preseason and that he will only continue to improve.
“I think he’s improved, and I believe the improvement will keep going. He’s a fighter we know that but today he found the right time to connect with the goal that we scored...
“Enzo is a guy that needs a little bit of help and time to adapt to the league, but I thought he was more disciplined in pressing a little bit better with his game back to the goal... I saw an improvement from the first game.”
As for the team wide performance, it was one with more personality compared to their previous match against the New England Revolution. They did well in the buildup phase where they were able to bypass St. Louis’s high press through quick combinations on several different occasions but that final pass to finish sequences was still lacking.
“I thought the boys played really well in the buildup phase then with the last pass, when you are in this situation it is up to the players to make the decision and sometimes, sometimes they get it right and sometimes they get it wrong,” said Lattanzio analyzing the match.
The scoreline didn’t represent the effort the team gave against St. Louis in front of an away crowd that was enlivened by their inaugural season opener. Against a team that strives to bully opponents physically but found that the visiting side was up for it. Charlotte matched their intensity and physicality, giving them a game that Lattanzio believes showed continued growth within the side.
“I think the boys came here and played football and this is what I want to see. I want our boys to play strong home and away no matter where we go, no matter who we play against. I think there is a lot more to come from this group.”
“We just have to learn how to play stronger moments but there is a good mood in the changing room in the sense that there is anger but with the belief that they are going in the right direction.”
Fortunately for the team, it’s still early in the season and they have a chance to respond in front of their fans against nonother than Southern rivals, Atlanta United this Saturday, March 11th.
“That's the thing with football, you always have another game to bounce back from,” said Westwood. “That’s what we’ll be looking to do... It’s another big game, we’ve had three real big games, and we want to get that win as soon as possible.”
HIGHLIGHTS: Charlotte FC at St. Louis CITY SC