Following a disappointing result to LAFC, Charlotte FC fly directly to the Big Apple for a midweek match against New York City FC.
Here are the three ingredients of the match for NYCFC.
Charlotte FC has taken two cross-country flights in a single week while also playing a 90-minute game. Flying across time zones in such a short amount of time wreaks havoc on fatigue levels and sleep schedules.
While the Club has done everything possible to reduce the travel miles by flying directly from LA to NYC (rather than LA to CLT to NYC), the fact remains that cross country travel is fatigue-inducing.
“This is surreal to play one game in the West Coast then after a couple of days in the East Coast,” said head coach Christian Lattanzio to media. “But this is the way the league is structured. We have no complaints, and we have to get on with that to give our best account.”
Therefore, effective recovery will be extra important going into Wednesday’s match against NYCFC. CLTFC has a top-of-the-line medical staff that will do everything in their power to make sure the players are ready to go.
Players that logged high minutes on Saturday – and even those who did not – will be spending extra time in the training room in order to have their legs under them at Red Bull Arena. The margins are razor thin at this level, so any extra percentage of recovery could be the difference in the closing minutes of the match.
Lattanzio believes he can already see his players recovering well.
“The players have been fine, and they trained well today (Tuesday) with a lot of spirit, which was good to see. I expect everybody to be able play even two games in a row if needed. But there could be some changes.”
Build Defensive Relationships
Early in the season, Charlotte FC was stout defensively. However, in recent games (especially on the road), the team has had trouble keeping the ball out of the back of their own net.
The loss of veteran defender Guzman Corujo to a season-ending ACL surgery has not helped matters in this regard. Jan Sobocinski, who before Saturday had made three appearances off the bench, will be asked to step up down the stretch alongside Adilson Malanda, the new young signing who Lattanzio said this week is in the final stages of his visa process.
However, building good defensive relationships on the pitch takes time, according to Lattanzio.
“Each player needs a little bit of time on the pitch to establish confidence and relationships with his teammates. Relationships between defenders is not just in a unit with other defenders, but also how we build with the midfielders and the relationship with the wingers and center forward.”
“We can find them (distances and relationships) in training, but then when the game comes, it is different for obvious reasons – the different intensity, the different emotional intensity, and so forth.”
Therefore, Wednesday’s match will be another chance to build these relationships to get Charlotte FC back on solid ground defensively. The quicker this can be done, the better chance the team will have to keep clean sheets as the season rushes to a close.
Take Advantage of Fortunate Circumstances
While the travel and recovery portion of this match are a challenge, the other circumstances surrounding the match are fortunate in some ways for CLTFC.
First and foremost, NYCFC are facing serious tumult and question marks around personnel. Head Coach Ronny Deila and star striker Taty Castellanos (who led the Golden Boot race at the time) were both summer casualties to Standard Liege and Girona, respectively. More recently, they lost All-Star center back and leader Alexander Callens to an MCL knee injury.
Fans may also notice a different color palette than sky blue at the stadium on Wednesday. The match will be hosted at Red Bull Arena instead of Yankee Stadium, where the narrow and unique dimensions give NYCFC a much more significant home field advantage.
Finally, while New York City FC are 12-6-6 and sticking at the top of the Eastern Conference, they have been on a slide recently, losing their last two matches to start off August. Since Taty Castellanos departed, they have yet to earn three points (one draw, two losses).
Focusing on taking advantage of an NYCFC team on a losing skid, missing an All-Star center back and striker, and playing at their rival’s stadium will be important for the team’s bounce-back mentality following a tough defeat at LAFC.
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