fCINCINNATI – Charlotte FC were handed their third straight loss as FC Cincinnati achieved revenge against the Crown with a 2 – 0 win. It was a win that Cincinnati had to scrap for but ultimately earned the points they needed to continue their playoff push.
It was a positive first half for Charlotte FC as they held most of the meaningful possession. They were the ones asking questions of their opponent's defense as they kept them pinned in their own half the majority of the time.
However, like many times before, Charlotte couldn’t capitalize despite having control of the match and were punished for it. In the 38th minute, Cincinnati native Nick Hagglund battled through Charlotte’s defense on a corner to get the final touch on the opening goal.
Going down a goal ignited a fire within Charlotte’s players as they came out of the half flying. The team turned up the intensity as they tried to mount the comeback. After lacking creativity in the first half, CLTFC were switching it up with quick one two passes, driving towards the byline, and producing clever movement that gave FCC problems on defense.
Even though Charlotte looked arguably the sharpest they have all season in the second half, it was through their own doing that Cincinnati would score the dagger in the 81st minute. A poor decision led to another goal when goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina played a short pass to debutant Nuno Santos who was under pressure. Santos had little to no time on the ball leading to FCC dispossessing him in CLTFC’s own penalty box where Luciano Acosta showed why he’s an MVP candidate by burying Cincinnati’s second goal to seal the game.
Set pieces have been a struggle for Charlotte on both sides of the ball. Even though set piece defensive was a strength of the team for most of the season, it’s become a weakness in recent outings. In CLTFC’s last two matches, the first goals they have conceded have come off corner kicks. Lapses in man marking and defending second balls have been at the root of their problems.
On the other hand, Charlotte not creating any threat with their corners has been persistent all season. They have yet to score from a corner. Against Cincinnati, the Crown had ten more opportunities to find the net but didn’t cause any danger.
Staying disciplined and focused on defensive and delivering better balls on offensive will be key in improving Charlotte’s set piece woes.
Right back Nathan Byrne and midfielder Nuno Santos made their club debuts. Santos brought a spark in the midfield with his ability to pick out passes that unbalanced Cincinnati's defense and while Byrne saw limited minutes near the end his energy was contagious. Charlotte FC fans will have an opportunity to watch the latest additions in person as the team takes on New York City FC at home next.