Charlotte FC uncharacteristically have conceded seven straight unanswered goals in their last two matches. Defensive organization has been a pillar of Charlotte’s this season, especially at home, having only conceded seven total goals at Bank of America Stadium this season.
The Crown once again need to tighten up defensively especially against a side like the Crew who have received a spark in attack with the addition of striker Cucho Hernandez. Hernandez has added a whole different dynamic to their attack, making them particularly dangerous in transition.
“We have to try to impose our game, defend transitions, and break down one of the most solid teams in MLS. Defending in transition against some of the best talents in MLS with [Lucas] Zelarayán and [Derrick] Etienne is a good runner, [Luis] Díaz is a good runner,“ said CLTFC interim head coach Christian Lattanzio. “So obviously preparing the game with the boys is a tough challenge. But we will, we will face it, we will embrace it.”
Being careful not to lose the ball in situations the Crew can break out of and tracking back on defense will be key in limiting Columbus’s threat on the counter.
Yet Another Playmaker
MLS is filled with talented attacking midfielders who pull the strings for their team. Number tens have become a highlight of the league and the Crew have one of their own – Lucas Zelarayan.
Hernandez has been stealing all the headlines but it’s Zelarayan that makes this team click. But this won’t be the Crown’s first rodeo with an elite playmaker. Carles Gil and Sebastián Driussi are others that CLTFC have had to gameplan against and they did so successfully.
For players like these, making them uncomfortable and not allowing them to settle into a match is critical. Staying compact and limiting the space they can operate in will go a long way in disrupting Columbus’s attack.
Test of Character
Winning at home is what has kept CLTFC in the playoff race this season. They are back at home for the first of three straight matches at Bank of America Stadium. A win against Columbus would put them just a point behind them while a loss could make it a seven point difference.
The margins are as slim as ever and these upcoming home matches are the most important ones of the season. Shaking off the two losses with a win against the Crew can be a moment that shifts the trajectory of the season. As Lattanzio said, “This is the moment where you see the character of everyone.”
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