Match Preview

Match Preview: Charlotte FC at Toronto FC


Charlotte FC has started the 2024 MLS regular season undefeated, notching a 1-0 victory over New York City FC in front of 62,291 fans in the Club’s home opener and then earning a 1-1 draw away at Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

Head Coach Dean Smith will look to keep the undefeated streak alive as the squad travels to Canada for the second time in two weeks, this time for an afternoon matchup with Toronto FC.

Match: Charlotte FC vs Toronto FC

When: Saturday, March 9

Where: BMO Field

Kickoff: 2:00pm ET

Watch: Live on 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.

Keeping Clean Sheet Momentum

If the team can keep the ball out of the back of Kristijan Kahlina’s net on Saturday night, they will be guaranteed to walk away with at least a point. That is the simple reality of the impact defending has on the outcome of a match.

So far, CLTFC has defended effectively, having not conceded a goal from open play in either match so far (and keeping clean sheets in the final four preseason matches). The only goal conceded was on a set piece against Vancouver, which Dean Smith says is a point of emphasis – not just this week, but since he has taken over in Charlotte.

Additionally, the Englishman is pleased with his team’s defending in general.

“When you look at us without the ball, I think we look really connected as a team. There’s no space to play in between us… teams are having to go around us or over us.

“They [Vancouver] went over us in a couple of times and got chances where they probably shouldn’t have. Again, individual mistakes have probably led to them. That’s been a lack of concentration.”

Ultimately, CLTFC has defended collectively extremely well. Individual mistakes will happen from time to time – that is an unavoidable fact in a sport as fast and flowing as soccer – but eliminating as many of them as possible will be paramount to good results in difficult away matches like this weekend versus Toronto.

The Opponent

“The big thing for me is concentrating on ourselves. You can’t control what they do. We’ve got to have good emotional control, good tactics, and a good game plan to go and beat them. So, we have to concentrate on ourselves, and we will do.”

Another week, another pre-match press conference quote from Dean Smith about concentrating more on his own team’s approach. However, Smith and his coaching staff will still evaluate Toronto FC’s performances so far this season, having watched both of their games so far.

Toronto has four points through two away matches, first drawing FC Cincinnati 0-0 and then defeating the New England Revolution 1-0. Saturday’s match will be their home opener, so they will certainly be looking to “please their supporters” in Smith’s words. He wants his team to take the game to Toronto early on to combat the environment.

The Canadian team has a base of MLS veterans like goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who came up with a massive save in stoppage time to preserve their win over the Revolution, to supplement their main two men: Italian superstars Federico Bernardeschi and Lorenzo Insigne. Insigne scored the match-winner against the Revolution.

Stopping both Italian talents will be the key to a good result. Caleb Adams broke down how The Crown can take advantage tactically in his weekly Ingredients of the Match.


The Season (and Preseason) So Far

Charlotte FC won their first match of the season over NYCFC with a gritty 1-0 win at home and then secured a 1-1 draw away at Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Previously, they had wrapped up a five-week preseason, with an opening stint in Miami, Florida and a closing stint in Indio, California for the Coachella Valley Invitational.

The team has gelled well under Head Coach Dean Smith, and his direct, efficient principles of play have quickly become apparent. CLTFC have yet to concede a goal from open play, and have only let in one goal in their last six matches (including preseason).

Now, Saturday’s match against Toronto is the second of three consecutive away matches ahead of two at home against the defending MLS Cup Champions (Columbus Crew) and defending Supporter’s Shield Champions (FC Cincinnati).



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