It's another clash of the queen cities but this time around Charlotte FC will be the visitors head to Ohio to faceoff against FC Cincinnati.
Here are the three ingredients of the match:
Playoffs Still in Reach
Last week’s loss against Toronto hampered Charlotte’s playoff ambitions but all hope isn’t lost just yet. Fortunately for Charlotte, several other results went in their favor with direct playoff competitors dropping valuable points within the past week.
“We have six games left, a lot can happen in six games,” said CLTFC midfielder Brandt Bronico. “Everybody is still fighting, everybody still very much believes we can make playoffs, and everybody will give their all to try and achieve that.”
Charlotte have an opportunity to stay in reach of playoffs with a win against conference rival, Cincinnati. Even though playoffs are an uphill battle, the team can begin to get some wins, they will give themselves a fighting chance.
Sharpness in Attacking Third
Charlotte continues to pay for their lack of sharpness in the final third which has been a trend all season. Against Toronto, Charlotte did a good job of creating threatening moments but because of a poor pass, bad touch, or wrong decision they amounted to nothing.
“Sometimes when you create chances you think, ok, the next one is coming. You have to make every one count as if it’s your last one,” is what interim head coach Christian Lattanzio had to say about capitalizing on scoring opportunities.
Against a team with clinical finishers like Brandon Vazquez and Brenner, putting away scoring opportunities becomes that much more important. Just a little more quality in that final third could open up the floodgates for Charlotte.
In the aftermath of Toronto, Lattanzio made it a point to stress that the team’s priority is not just to improve fitness or tactics but most important mentality.
“The most important thing I told the boys that we have to develop is mentality. To be really strong mentally,” said Lattanzio. “Which means to be one hundred percent in every training session, and it’s easy to say but difficult to do in the way I see it.
“When they are on the pitch, they have to be really engaged mentally... We need to improve but improve with the right priorities in mind and the number one priority for me is mentality. To play strong in every moment of the game.”
For a lot of instances this season, Charlotte’s worse enemy on defense has been themselves. Defensive lapses have cost them dearly as they did against Toronto FC and even in the match before that against Orlando City. Staying mentally engaged for 90 minutes straight on a consistent basis is still something the team is building towards to.
They are going to need every bit of focus against Cincinnati who currently have one of the most threatening front threes in MLS. Fitness and tactics are important, but their influence becomes less relevant when a team is not mentally locked in to properly execute.
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