It's a first away trip to the Music City for Charlotte FC as they wrap up their regular season series against Nashville SC.
Here are the three ingredients of the match:
Breaking Free from Old Habits
Charlotte's current season has often been characterized by possession dominance without effective goal conversion and conceding preventable goals. This trend was evident against Orlando City, as they were once again their own worst enemy.
Despite exhibiting another dynamic attacking display, Charlotte squandered numerous scoring chances they had generated.
Head Coach Christian Lattanzio emphasized this issue in his post-match press conference, stating: "We need to understand that the goal of football is to put the ball in the net. We do all this to create chances and to have possibilities to do that. I think we had enough chances to win the game today and we didn’t take them.”
This self-inflicted struggle was exacerbated by conceding a soft goal from a distant set piece. Although Charlotte has made strides in these areas recently, avoiding regression into old habits is crucial for any playoff aspirations.
Still Trending Up
On a positive note, Charlotte's performances have visibly improved since the commencement of Leagues Cup. The team exudes newfound confidence, embracing the attractive, attacking style that Lattanzio has been instilling throughout the season.
While facing a playoff-contending side in Nashville for their first away match might seem daunting, delving into Nashville's recent MLS form reveals an opportunity for Charlotte to secure points.
Nashville has endured a winless streak of five consecutive MLS matches and is without key defender Walker Zimmerman. Moreover, Charlotte has proven its capacity to earn points on the road this season, a noticeable and welcome improvement from the inaugural season’s road struggles. Though a match in Nashville is never easy, The Crown's recent form positions them well to disrupt the show in the Music City.
The Usual Suspect
Nashville's triumphs largely revolve around Hany Mukhtar, the reigning 2022 MLS MVP, who is once again showcasing MVP-caliber performances. Effectively curtailing Mukhtar's impact becomes a pivotal factor in Charlotte's chances to get a positive result.
Central to this objective is an emphasis on dominating the midfield battle. Sustaining compactness and communication within the midfield can thwart Mukhtar's exploitation of gaps, impeding his ability to engineer scoring opportunities. Suffocating the passing lanes that target Mukhtar will compel him to retreat deep to retrieve the ball, a zone where opponents prefer him to operate. The farther from the goal he is, the better for Charlotte.
Drawing inspiration from their approach against Carlos Vela, Charlotte can employ a high press to curtail Mukhtar's service and exert pressure once he receives possession. This strategy disrupts his playmaking prowess and ultimately diminishes his impact – which Charlotte is well aware as it was Mukhtar, who netted two goals in their prior loss to Nashville earlier in the season.
Hey Charlotte FC Fans,
When it comes to Match Day…it’s all about the food and Drink Mixers and Harris Teeter has everything you need. Score big with deals from great brands like these: Q Mixers Frank’s RedHot, French’s, Zatarain’s, Lawry’s, Stubbs, Old Bay, and Cattlemen’s.
Stop in your Harris Teeter for great savings on Match Day foods. Harris Teeter, Official Grocery Store of Charlotte FC!