IOTM Crew

Charlotte FC heads to Ohio for the first time to play against conference rivals, the Columbus Crew, as the hunt for the Crown's first away win continues.

Here are the three ingredients of the match for the Crew.

First Goal

Conceding first away from home has become a trend for Charlotte FC. In five of their seven away matches so far this season, CLTFC have conceded the first goal and gone on to lose every one of those matches.

CLTFC’s best away performances have come when they’ve been able to settle into the match. Conceding early disrupts that, making getting an already difficult task of getting points away that much harder.

The Columbus Crew will have a packed stadium behind them, so remaining focused and composed in those opening minutes will be critical in allowing the Crown to grow into the match in hostile territory.

Flanks

Like CLTFC, the Crew have had their fair struggle of scoring goals this season. Their predictability and lack of a proficient striker have hindered a team that has a solid spine and is stingy on defense. But what success they have had on offense tends to come from their flanks. Columbus’s head coach, Caleb Porter, likes to have his team play out wide rather than down the middle.

Most of their attacking sequences start wide, as they move up the pitch circulating play in a “U” shape. The ball gets switched from right to left as they patiently wait for their opponent to get dragged out of position before quickly combining to exploit the spaces that open up.

However, the Crew’s biggest strength can also be their weakness. Having their fullbacks push up high to get involved in the attack will open up the space behind them for CLTFC’s wingers to exploit. Charlotte will get their opportunities to hurt Columbus in transition through the wide spaces. But then it will be a matter of making the most of them against a team that doesn't give away much, so far sitting 5th in the least amount of goals conceded in the league.

Something To Prove

That first away win still eludes Charlotte as their record away is currently 0-6-1. It’s something that the coaches and players have come out and said only serves as extra motivation.

“We look at the table and I think we are sitting 6th in the East right now and that’s never having won a game away,” said CLTFC winger McKinze Gaines. “I think that gives us extra motivation to say hey if we keep winning these games at home and we snatch a few on the road there is no reason why we can’t be sitting comfortably in a playoff spot whenever the season ends.”

Charlotte FC has built a reputation as a team that can beat anyone at home but is a shell of itself when playing away. After a statement win against the New York Red Bulls, the Crown can begin to shed that away reputation by picking up their first three points against a vulnerable Columbus side.

In partnership with Harris Teeter, CLTFC is bringing you the Ingredients of the Match ahead of every time our team takes the pitch during this inaugural season. While the ingredients may differ from week to week, one thing we can all agree on is when it comes to matchday, it’s all about the food and the preparation and Harris Teeter has what you need. Milk, Creamers and Frozen Desserts from Planet Oat and Sunshine Energy Drinks for your matchday prep! Harris Teeter, an Official Grocery Store of Charlotte FC!