MAILBAG: Jóźwiak's Return, Bender to USMNT, and CLTFC Game of Thrones?


Questions for the 2nd edition of the Charlotte FC Mailbag seemed to be a lot more focused on individuals. Such as, how does Jóźwiak fit into all this? Does Ben Bender have a U.S. National Team future? But I'll also be giving some insight into the Academy and end with a fun Game of Thrones/Charlotte FC mashup to round out the Mailbag. Thanks once again to everyone who submitted questions and without further ado let's get right into it.

When Jozwiak returns to the squad, what is the predicted formation we will use? Swiderski seems to thrive in a two-striker formation, but will we go back to a 4-3-3 with Jozwiak? Obviously, Miguel Angel Ramírez has a lot of options now but interested to see your thoughts on the formation makeup with Jozwiak's presence. Caleb, Mint Hill, NC

If you’re wondering if I asked myself a question, I didn’t... Anyways, with that out of the way, this is something I’ve also been pondering this past week.

Firstly, it’s important to note the positions Jóźwiak can play: left-wing, right-wing, and right wingback. He does have some versatility to him but has stated himself that he most prefers playing as left winger.

Secondly, we all know that Ramírez’s preferred formation is a 433 but playing in the recently used 442 Diamond has seemed to benefit the team as a whole, especially the Club’s DP striker, Świderski.

And thirdly, with the recent addition of Derrick Jones and the rise of Jordy Alcívar there are more options in the midfield than ever for Ramírez to choose from which could affect how he sets up. But ultimately, how Ramírez sets his team up will be determined by opponents but there are two possible setups I could see him go with when Jóźwiak returns...

His old-faithful 433, with Jóźwiak in his most comfortable position at left wing, cutting inside, serving as someone Świderski can play off of like he’s been with Ríos. Or if he wants to keep the duo of Ríos and Świderski, another option could be to play a 352 with Jóźwiak as the right wingback which is what he plays for the Polish National Team and has been quite productive in that role.

Whatever Ramírez decides to do, figuring out how to fit in a player of the caliber of Jóźwiak is a good problem to have.

How far outside the current USMNT player pool is Ben Bender? If he continues with his recent form, could a non-World Cup related call up be in his future this year? – Trevor, Charlotte, NC

Trust me, I’m just as excited about Bender as everyone else is but we have to pump the brakes a bit. Don’t get me wrong, what Bender has accomplished so far in his first professional games is amazing... but that is just it, his FIRST professional games. 

With that said, if Bender keeps up his great form throughout the season there would be no reason to think why he wouldn’t get called up for the annual USMNT January training camp which is focused on assessing talent in the domestic leagues.

How frequently are academy players able to move up to the senior team? Are there any stand-out academy players at the moment? More coverage of the academy would be fun. – Josh, Charlotte, NC

When you say “move up to the senior” team, I don’t know if that means making the first team roster or just training with the first team? I’m going to assume you mean being able to train and participate with the first team.

I don’t know the exact frequency that Academy players can train with the first team but what I do know is that recently they’ve worked more often with the first team. Ramírez has been integrating quite a few of them into training in recent weeks.

I wouldn’t take this as a sign of possible first homegrown contracts, but rather just Ramírez wanting to be involved in their development. Ramírez is passionate about youth soccer and it’s no different at Charlotte FC.

There are certainly quite a few standout players in the Academy, but I rather not say any names because of the potential added pressure it may bring to a still very young group of players. A lot of CLTFC’s Academy players are younger than most players in their age groups.

I will shout out Brian Romero, however, who earned a spot on the final roster of the USYNT U-17 squad. Only 20 players were called into these international friendlies: being one of 20 players called up out of the entire American U-17 pool says all you need to know about Romero’s ability and potential.

If MAR (Miguel Ángel Ramírez), Swiderski, and Kahlina were cast in Game of Thrones, what characters would they be? Any other players that match up with characters in the show? – Jeff, Charlotte, NC

Ha, this is a fun one.

I’ve seen all of Game of Thrones, but it’s been a while, so I had to crowdsource and get some help from the content team. This is what we came up with...

Karol Świderski (The Night King): He’s a man of few words but when the time comes to strike, he’s lethal.

Kristijan Kahlina (The Wall): This one doesn’t need any explanation...

Ben Bender (John Snow): The prince who was promised and the long hair.

Alan Franco (Arya): Sneaky, but a critical character/player on the squad.

Guzmán Corujo (Khal Drogo): Beard, tall, and has a lion tattoo, c’mon now, too easy.

That wraps up the second edition of Mailbag, if I missed your question, it could be featured in the next edition, so there is still hope! Make sure to submit any questions you may have for next time here.