Charlotte FC enters Decision Day with a chance at qualifying for playoffs after Wednesday’s 2-2 draw at Inter Miami.
They must win at Bank of America Stadium in a rematch against that same Miami side and also get help from results elsewhere. Charlotte FC needs two of the three teams above them – CF Montreal, New York Red Bulls, and Chicago Fire FC – to lose or draw their matches.
Here is everything you need to know ahead of the final match of the regular season.
Match: Charlotte FC vs Inter Miami CF
When: Saturday, October 21
Where: Bank of America Stadium
Kickoff: 6:00pm 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.
Know Before You Go: For details on match day at Bank of America Stadium, click here.
Charlotte FC 2 – 2 Inter Miami CF (Major League Soccer | October 18)
Eastern Conference Table: For the full live table, click here.
8. CF Montreal – 41 points, 33 GP
9. D.C. United – 40 points, 34 GP (eliminated)
---------- Playoff Line ----------
10. New York Red Bulls – 40 points, 33 GP
11. Chicago Fire FC – 40 points, 33 GP
12. Charlotte FC – 40 points, 33 GP
13. NYCFC – 38 points, 33 GP
14. Inter Miami CF – 34 points, 33 GP (eliminated)
As a point of clarification, D.C. United is eliminated from playoff contention despite currently sitting in the final playoff spot. Because the league has an odd number of teams, D.C. United has already played all 34 games and does not play on Decision Day. Since Chicago and NYCFC play against each other, one of those teams is guaranteed to pass D.C. regardless of the result.
After Wednesday’s draw, Charlotte FC no longer controls its own destiny in the playoff race. However, the scenario to reach the playoffs is still realistic on paper.
First, the team needs to take care of business at Bank of America Stadium with a victory and three points. Anything less would see CLTFC eliminated from playoff contention.
Additionally, they will need at least two of the three teams above them in the standings – CF Montreal, New York Red Bulls, and Chicago Fire FC – to drop points in their simultaneous matches on Saturday. All three teams have tough matchups away from home on the cards.
In order to reach 8th place and thus host the Wild Card match, CLTFC would need all three of those teams to drop points on Saturday.
That’s the simple explanation. If looking for a deeper study of those matches elsewhere in the Eastern Conference, dive into this one that breaks it all down as Decision Day approaches.
After a lack of clarity heading into Wednesday’s match surrounding player availability (given injuries and the FIFA International Window), the picture is much clearer ahead of Saturday.
The obvious exception is Lionel Messi, who just played for Argentina versus Peru on Tuesday night. His status likely will not be confirmed until closer to the start of the match.
Elsewhere for Miami, though, Wednesday offered up answers on many of the question marks surrounding their squad. Star midfielders Gregore (from the start) and Jean Mota (off the bench), both played significant minutes after lengthy injury layoffs this year due to a Lisfranc and LCL, respectively.
Diego Gomez and Leonardo Campana also both returned to starting roles after hamstring injuries, and Jordi Alba entered off the bench. Kamal Miller and Facundo Farias both returned in time form international play to feature, as well.
Their only absences were Sergii Krystov with a hamstring injury and Josef Martinez and Lionel Messi due to international duty.
Charlotte FC, meanwhile, were able to utilize Karol Swiderski from the bench after he featured for Poland in their UEFA Euros Qualifiers. Jere Uronen (Finland) and Bill Tuiloma (New Zealand) were not able to return in time to join the squad. All three of these players are expected to be fully involved in Saturday’s season finale.
Derrick Jones will also return to the team after missing the last match through a yellow card accumulation suspension.
This week’s double matchup with Inter Miami is unique due to the scheduling quirk of playing the same team twice in four days. This would not normally happen, but Wednesday’s matchup was originally supposed to be played in early August. Both teams advancing in Leagues Cup meant it had to be rescheduled.
Now, after Wednesday’s 2-2 draw in Miami, the teams will rematch on Saturday at Bank of America Stadium.
Direct lessons can be taken from the two goals Charlotte conceded and applied to this next matchup. This makes the Decision Day clash a very interesting tactical battle as both coaching staffs make changes based on their last match just a few days prior.
Writer Caleb Adams took a stab at identifying the main lessons from Wednesday’s match to take into Saturday.
The Season So Far
Charlotte FC’s second season got off to a tough start, with one win, three draws, and five losses in the opening eight matches. However, the Crown were able to stabilize in an extremely congested April and May, rattling off five straight wins at home in the league and the U.S. Open Cup. Over the course of the summer, wins were hard to come by, but the team kept themselves in touching distance of the playoffs with five draws in their last six games before the Leagues Cup break.
Leagues Cup served as a great reset for Charlotte FC. One penalty shootout win and one outright win put them through to the knockout stage as group winners, where CLTFC won two straight road games before falling to eventual champions Inter Miami in the quarterfinals.
Head Coach Christian Lattanzio’s side have been carrying that tournament momentum over to the last third of the MLS regular season but were generally unable to turn draws into key victories. However, they still found themselves in a good position to control their own destiny down the stretch.
A crucial, dominant home victory over Toronto FC got that needed winning streak underway and a clutch win on the road against Chicago continued it, but a draw on the road at Inter Miami on Wednesday mean the team no longer control their own destiny. They need a win on Decision Day paired with a few results going their way to qualify for playoffs.