Match Preview

Match Preview: Charlotte FC at New York Red Bulls

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Four weeks ago, Charlotte FC had just wrapped up a tough month of April in which they lost three matches while only winning one. Then, they were staring at a critical (and packed) month of May with six matches, four of which were at home.

The team delivered under pressure, producing five shutouts in a row for three wins and two draws, including the team’s first away victory of the season.

Now, CLTFC faces the final match of May at New York Red Bulls as they eye another road shutout and three points.

Match: Charlotte FC at New York Red Bulls

When: Wednesday, May 29

Where: Bank of America Stadium

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET

Watch: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV – How to Watch & Listen

Listen: WFNZ 92.7 FM (English) & WOLS 106.1 FM (Spanish)

For all other radio station affiliates in the Carolinas, click here.

Previous Matches:

Charlotte FC 0 – 0 Philadelphia Union (Major League Soccer | May 25)

New York City FC 2 – 1 New York Red Bulls (Major League Soccer | May 25)

Eastern Conference Table: For the full live table, click here.

5. New York Red Bulls – 23 points, 14 GP

6. Toronto FC – 22 points, 15 GP

7. Charlotte FC – 22 points, 15 GP

8. Philadelphia Union – 18 points, 14 GP

9. D.C. United – 18 points, 15 GP

---------- Playoff Line ----------

Designated Player Impact

Charlotte FC’s newest Designated Player, Liel Abada, got off to a fast start in the Queen City. The Israeli winger scored in just his second start for the Club in a 3-2 home win over Toronto FC on April 13th, showing off his pace and finishing ability from the right wing.

Unfortunately, he picked up a thigh injury two games later that held him out for almost the entire month of May. He slowly worked his way back, returning to the pitch last Saturday against Philadelphia with a 10-minute cameo from the bench.

CLTFC’s inability to score goals so far this season has been well-documented. 14 goals scored (tied for second-least in the Eastern Conference) is on par with the conference’s bottom two teams. However, the team’s league-best 13 goals conceded has meant the team is up in the playoff positions rather than scrapping it out at the bottom of the table.

So, while the defensive foundations are solid (excellent or elite might be better words), the offensive firepower will need to increase for Charlotte to evolve into a legitimate contender. The summer transfer window may help with reinforcements, but Abada’s arrival back into the team can provide a jolt of much-needed energy.

The winger (who just proposed to his girlfriend over the weekend!) was electric in his ten minutes against the Union. He nearly won the game with a left-footed shot and created multiple big chances with his pace to beat Kai Wagner down the right side.

In his pre-match press conference on Tuesday morning, Smith said that Abada got through that ten-minute debut healthy, so he will now be in contention to start as he ramps back up into 90-minute fitness.

Charlotte fans will be happy to hear that news as May draws to a close. Abada will have some attacking responsibility to shoulder as Dean Smith’s team continues to look for solutions in the offensive third.

The Opponent

The New York Red Bulls are a consistent playoff team, qualifying for the postseason for 14 consecutive seasons. They will also be a familiar opponent for Charlotte FC, who has faced them four times in the regular season, plus matchups in the Open Cup and last year’s playoffs.

This season, the Red Bulls have taken a step forward under new Head Coach Sandro Schwarz after scraping into the playoffs just ahead of CLTFC in 2023. They currently sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, a point up on Charlotte with a game in hand, so a win for The Crown would help close the gap.

In the past, the Red Bulls have been well known for their high-pressing “energy drink” style of play. Schwarz has evolved that style to a more balanced approach this season, though they still place a focus on pressing high up the field to create turnovers.

All of this has led to good success, especially at home, where New York is unbeaten in 2024 with three wins and two draws.

Lewis Morgan is the main man for New York, scoring nine goals already so far this season. Designated Players Dante Vanzeir (seven assists) and Emil Forsberg (four goals, three assists) are the other two dangerous players for the Red Bulls. Forsberg, in particular, brings bags of experience from RB Leipzig in Germany and the Swedish national team, and he will need to be defended closely as the team’s main creative force.

Another player to look out for? Elias Manoel is the striker who somehow always finds the back of the net against CLTFC (six goals in four matches) despite having a spotty scoring record in the rest of his games. Caleb Adams asked Dean Smith about this trend (spoiler: he’s not concerned) for today’s Ingredients of the Match.


The Season So Far

CLTFC started the season well with a gritty 1-0 home opener win over New York City FC. After a rocky three-game road trip that only resulted in one point, the team returned home to Bank of America Stadium to down defending MLS Cup Champions Columbus Crew (2-0) and draw defending Supporter’s Shield Champions FC Cincinnati (1-1).

Results continued to be up and down from there during a frustrating April. The team won a thrilling back-and-forth home match against Toronto courtesy of a late Patrick Agyemang match-winner, but they lost their other three matches in disappointing fashion.

However, a busy May has reignited Charlotte’s form. The team has risen to seventh place in the Eastern Conference following five consecutive shutouts, a Club record, to take three wins and two draws.

Now, the team will be looking to finish May strong with a chance to notch their second away win of the season at the New York Red Bulls.