Match Preview

Match Preview: Charlotte FC vs Nashville SC

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Charlotte FC has begun a critical month of May ahead that features a distinct advantage: four of their six matches at home. The team triumphed in the first of those four Saturday home matches against the Portland Timbers last weekend.

With the matches coming thick and fast, Head Coach Dean Smith and his players will look at this Saturday’s match against Nashville as a double opportunity: revenge for an away loss earlier this season and the start of a new home unbeaten streak.

Match: Charlotte FC vs Nashville SC

When: Saturday, May 11

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.

Know Before You Go: For information on tickets, stadium entry, and more, click here.

Previous Matches:

Charlotte FC 2 – 0 Portland Timbers (Major League Soccer | May 4)

Nashville SC 4 – 1 CF Montreal (Major League Soccer | May 4)

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

Columbus Crew – 15 points, 10 GP

Charlotte FC – 14 points, 11 GP

NYCFC – 14 points, 11 GP

Philadelphia Union – 14 points, 10 GP

D.C. United – 14 points, 11 GP

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

Atlanta United – 12 points, 10 GP

CF Montreal – 12 points, 10 GP

Nashville SC – 11 points, 10 GP

Defensive Foundations

Last time out against Portland, Charlotte FC secured their first shutout since a 2-0 home win over the Columbus Crew on March 23, with five matches in between shutouts (and bottles of wine for the defenders and keeper, as promised by Head Coach Dean Smith).

“It was pleasing to get one,” Smith said at Thursday’s press conference. “The players know how hard we have to work to keep clean sheets… But last week, I thought we restricted Portland to very few chances and got back to what we were about.”

We talked extensively throughout preseason and the early stages of the season about Smith molding this team with defense first. Shutouts and reduced chances are the evidence of that defensive solidity returning to this team during a critical month of May.

As that evidence returns, it’s a good time for a reminder that CLTFC still impressively sits in 4th place in the Eastern Conference in Expected Goals Against (xGA), according to FBref.

A big piece of that successful defensive identity is the team’s counter-pressing, in Smith’s eyes. He felt they had seen a drop-off in the effectiveness of that counter-pressing since the Minnesota loss, but he has been happy with the improvement in that area.

Against Nashville this Saturday, keeping their star attackers – Sam Surridge and Hany Mukhtar – in check will be crucial to another positive result. Caleb Adams has more on exactly how to accomplish that tactically in this week’s Ingredients of the Match.


Changing Landscape at Center Forward

Enzo Copetti will not be available for Saturday’s match. Around rumors of a departing transfer for the Designated Player, here’s Dean Smith from Thursday’s press conference on the developing situation:

“A club has got an interest in Enzo, and so he’s had an excused absence from training today [Thursday]… this has been unforeseen, and it’s happened this weekend. We just feel that it’s probably right for him not to be involved this weekend.”

So, on to what the picture currently looks like at the striker position for Charlotte FC.

Obviously, Patrick Agyemang seems lined up for an extended run leading the line for the team. Out of 11 total matches, the young American striker has started five matches so far this season and has appeared off the bench in five more. He has two goals, tied for the team lead.

Smith also name dropped several other players who could play as a number nine: Iuri Tavares, Kerwin Vargas, and Tyger Smalls. Liel Abada, who is currently out with an injury and projected to return around the end of May, is another option for a winger who has the ability to play through the middle.

Charlotte FC Forward Kerwin Vargas Signs New Contract

Charlotte FC Forward Kerwin Vargas Signs New Contract

Vargas has signed a new contract with the Club through 2027 with a Club option for 2028. The 22-year-old Colombian winger has six goals and six assists in 52 league appearances for CLTFC.

The Opponent

Nashville SC have endured a tough start to their 2024 season under Head Coach Gary Smith, their coach since their 2020 expansion year. They sit in 12th place in the Eastern Conference with only two wins in the season.

However, one of those two wins came over CLTFC in Tennessee earlier this season. Sam Surridge and Alex Muyl blitzed the Crown with two first half goals, creating a deficit Charlotte couldn’t overcome in a 2-1 loss.

Gary Smith has recently shifted his side into a new tactical setup, moving away from the traditional back four and into a back three with wingbacks. The team has always been focused on defense first under their English head coach, building a reputation as one of the stingiest defenses in the league.

This year, though, Nashville’s defense has been much poorer than normal, conceding 18 goals so far. CLTFC should be able to carve out opportunities, but they need to be wary of their lethal counter attack led by star number 10 Hany Mukhtar and striker Sam Surridge.

The Season So Far

CLTFC won their first match of the season over NYCFC with a gritty 1-0 win at home. They then faced three consecutive games on the road, securing a 1-1 draw in Vancouver before tight losses to Toronto (1-0) and Nashville (2-1).

Upon finally returning to Bank of America Stadium, the team impressively downed the defending MLS Cup Champions, the Columbus Crew, by a 2-0 score. Then, they secured another impressive result, drawing the defending Supporter’s Shield Champions, FC Cincinnati, in a 1-1 match.

After a disappointing road loss in New England, CLTFC won a thrilling back-and-forth match against Toronto at home courtesy of a late Patrick Agyemang match-winner but then suffered two disappointing results in a row with losses to Minnesota and NYCFC.

Now, after reigniting their electric home form with a 2-0 shutout win over the Portland Timbers, Charlotte FC will be looking to continue their home dominance and climb up the Eastern Conference table during a critical month of May.

Upper Bowl Open & Deck of Cards Giveaway presented by Bojangles

Upper Bowl Open & Deck of Cards Giveaway presented by Bojangles

The Upper Bowl is OPEN and tickets are starting at $15! Get there early to receive custom Charlotte FC playing cards presented by Bojangles.