Match Preview

Match Preview: Charlotte FC vs Inter Miami CF

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Charlotte FC returns to Bank of America Stadium this Wednesday for a match against the league leaders, Inter Miami CF. It will be a rare summer home match for The Crown, as they are coming off a two-match away trip and will be embarking on a four-match away stretch through the rest of July.

Head Coach Dean Smith and his players will then be looking for a big home result to grab some momentum to carry them through the rest of the summer.

Match: Charlotte FC vs Inter Miami CF

When: Wednesday, July 3

Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC

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:

Houston Dynamo FC 1 – 0 Charlotte FC (Major League Soccer | June 29)

Nashville SC 1 – 2 Inter Miami CF (Major League Soccer | June 29)

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

1. Inter Miami CF – 44 points, 21 GP

2. FC Cincinnati – 42 points, 20 GP

3. New York Red Bulls – 35 points, 21 GP

4. Columbus Crew – 33 points, 18 GP

5. New York City FC – 32 points, 20 GP

6. Charlotte FC – 32 points, 21 GP

7. Nashville SC – 26 points, 20 GP

8. Toronto FC – 24 points, 21 GP

9. Atlanta United – 24 points, 20 GP

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

Strong Start

“Starting strong”. It’s perhaps one of the most overused phrases coaches will use before the start of a match. Everyone wants to come out swinging, leveraging a strong start to dominate the entire game. So, why is a generic “strong start” important in Wednesday’s match?

Well, first, Charlotte FC decidedly did NOT have a strong start last time out against Houston. They allowed a goal just five minutes into the game, creating a deficit the team would ultimately never overcome in a 1-0 loss.

Here’s Head Coach Dean Smith in his pre-match press conference:

“Reviewing the game, we were just off it intensity-wise in the first half of the game… we just lacked the intensity we normally have, in terms of when we go and hunt the ball down. And that was what was disappointing, to be honest.”

That poor first-half hour in Houston was especially shocking because of how good CLTFC has been over that period this year. Before that 5th-minute goal, Charlotte had yet to concede a goal before the 31st minute. Period.

So, the team’s recipe for success so far this season has been maintaining that defensive intensity from the first whistle, and Smith felt his team dropped too far below the standards they hold themselves to. Given Charlotte’s ability this season to not let bad results snowball (plus the incredible home crowd at Bank of America Stadium), it’s reasonable to expect they fix this intensity issue straight away.

However, it’s not just about Charlotte FC in this match. Inter Miami CF are the league leaders on 13 wins and 44 points for a reason, and it’s not their defensive prowess.

This is a team that has overwhelmed their opponents with attacking firepower. Despite conceding a ton of goals and a ton of high-quality chances, they consistently brute force their way to results in high-scoring matches.

Therefore, it’s important that Wednesday’s game doesn’t get away from CLTFC early on. Simply put, this Charlotte team isn’t built to trade punches in a high-scoring match. While they certainly could win the game that way (dynamic players like Abada, Vargas, and Agyemang would like a word), it’s just more likely that Miami would be more comfortable in a game of that style.

So, a strong start means keeping a clean sheet early on so that the team can grow into the game and keep the match from opening up too much.

“We've got to make sure that we're right at the top of our game,” said Smith. “We can't start like we did against Philly and last week at Houston. We have to make sure we're ready right from the off.

“And I'm sure that fans will help us do that, as well.”

The Opponent

Of all the teams in Major League Soccer, Inter Miami is the most well-known and needs this explainer section the least. With their stable of superstars and Supporter’s Shield-leading performances, they’ve grabbed all the headlines so far this year.

However, they will be without the biggest name in world soccer, Lionel Messi, along with his longtime teammate and forward partner, Luis Suarez. Both are out for this game while at Copa America, representing Argentina and Uruguay, respectively. But, with both of their countries through to the knockout rounds, they could be traveling to Charlotte for either the semifinal or third-place game being hosted at Bank of America Stadium on July 10 and July 13.

Regardless, Miami has proven they can still win games consistently without Messi and Suarez. They have won their last three matches by the same 2-1 scoreline, including a home victory over the red-hot Columbus Crew.

Role players have stepped up under Head Coach Tata Martino to keep up the attacking production. MLS veteran Julian Gressel has assists in each of the last two games to go with a goal of his own. Ian Fray has contributed a goal in each of the last two games. Leonardo Campana is holding down the striker role effectively.

Oh, and the team still has Jordi Alba, who scored a game-winning screamer against Nashville, and Sergio Busquets, who continues to boss the midfield as a tempo-setter. The Herons aren’t short of star power.

The real question will be whether this game looks like a usual Charlotte FC game under Dean Smith (controlled, low-scoring, and defensively solid) or a barn-burning, high-scoring shootout like a usual Inter Miami game this season.

This Miami team is wildly outperforming their expected goals while also allowing the 3rd most expected goals against in the league… they’ve charged to the top of the table via pure firepower. Charlotte FC’s game plan to slow down Miami’s attack while taking advantage of their porous defense will be key in Wednesday’s final outcome.


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 reignited Charlotte’s form. The team notched three wins, two draws, and one loss over the course of the month. Even an away loss to the Red Bulls at the end of the month didn’t dent the players’ confidence, and they followed it up with a big away win over rivals Atlanta United.

Then, CLTFC vaulted up the standings to fourth with a great three-match week: a gritty 1-0 home win over D.C. United, a valiant home draw against Orlando after playing down to ten men for 52 minutes, and a 2-0 win on the road at Philadelphia.

Now, after a tough loss on the road at Houston, the team will be looking for a bounce back result at the Fortress.

Party of the Summer | CLT vs MIA |  Wed., July 3 at 7:30 p.m.

Party of the Summer | CLT vs MIA | Wed., July 3 at 7:30 p.m.

Start the 4th of July party early and celebrate at The Fortress as Charlotte FC hosts Inter Miami CF!

Party of the Summer Inclusions:
-Post-match fireworks
-Wine Wednesday (Select wine starting at $6.99)
-$10 concession credit with special ticket package
-Upper Bowl Open
-Light Up Rally Towel giveaway presented by Blue Cross NC (while supplies last)