Full Time

The Full Time Clip: Charlotte FC Comeback in Nashville Comes Up Short


CLTFC pulled a goal back just before halftime through Brecht Dejaegere, but ultimately could not find the equalizer in the second half.

First Half

Lineup: Kahlina, Byrne, Malanda, Privett, Uronen, Westwood, Diani, Arfield, Vargas (26’), Tavares, Agyemang

Substitutions: Dejaegere (26’)

The opening quarter hour of the match in the Music City was much more open and end-to-end than originally anticipated, given both teams’ penchant for attacking on the counter. Charlotte and Nashville both set up to press high at times early on.

CLTFC created a couple good chances in this opening phase, with Patrick Agyemang in particular causing problems. In just the first minute, the striker nearly had a tap-in from a Iuri Tavares cross, but it was well cut out by a Nashville defender.

Tavares found him again in the 13th minute, and Agyemang was able to bully Lukas MacNaughton off the through ball. He beat the center back again to get to the endline but couldn’t find Scott Arfield streaking into the box for the finish.

Charlotte FC lost Kerwin Vargas to injury shortly after. The Colombian was involved in an awkward tackle as he won a corner kick and limped off with the team’s athletic trainers to be replaced by Brecht Dejaegere.

From there, Nashville found a foothold in the game and the momentum swung in their favor. Hany Mukhtar, a former MLS MVP, served up a golden chance to Alex Muyl in the 24th minute, but the winger missed an open header on the front post.

In the 32nd minute, though, Nashville buried their opening goal. An excellent switch of play to the left side found left back Taylor Washington streaking forward, who served in an equally excellent cross to find Sam Surridge. Kristijan Kahlina got an impressive hand on the striker’s header, but he couldn’t push it wide of the post for the highlight reel save.

Alex Muyl redeemed himself soon after to double Nashville’s advantage. He climbed higher than Adilson Malanda to finish a header on the back post, courtesy of a good Shaq Moore cross.

However, Charlotte FC grabbed some momentum back just before halftime with a top-notch team goal. They switched the field twice, first from Djibril Diani to the right and then from Nathan Byrne to the left. Byrne’s ping found Jere Uronen streaking forward, who bounced one-two’s off a Nashville defender (intended for Arfield) and then Agyemang, before slotting it to Brecht Dejaegere.

Dejaegere, freshly on the field for the injured Vargas, calmly found the far post to halve the deficit with the final kick of the first half, sending CLTFC into the locker room with renewed hope.

Second Half

Lineup: Kahlina, Byrne, Malanda, Privett, Uronen, Westwood, Diani, Arfield, Dejaegere, Tavares (56’), Agyemang

Substitutions: Urso (56’)

Nashville Head Coach Gary Smith made the first move of the second half, changing Tyler Boyd for Jacob Shaffelburg at halftime. Shaffelburg immediately caused problems for Charlotte FC down the right side with his pace and direct play, but the first few minutes of the half went by relatively uneventfully.

The game shocked into life in the 55th minute, though. Agyemang pounced on a wayward pass on top of Nashville’s 18-yard box, taking his first touch into the box and getting scythed down by Jack Maher, who earned a yellow card.

Jere Uronen smashed the resulting free kick off the crossbar, with Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis getting a slight touch.

Meanwhile, CLTFC Head Coach Dean Smith made an early change just before the free kick was taken, swapping Junior Urso for Iuri Tavares. This moved Scott Arfield out to the left wing as Urso and Diani joined Ashley Westwood in midfield.

Alex Muyl had his third huge chance of the match in the 61st minute. His first touch from a Surridge cut back bounced up, and his half volley looked destined for the far side netting. However, it drifted just wide, grazing off the outside of the post.

The game at this point turned into a track meet for about a ten-minute stretch. Both teams were streaming forward with direct, incisive passing while also pressing high when they could, leading to some breathless end-to-end action.

CLTFC nearly scored from another dangerous free kick at the edge of the area. This time, it was Arfield in the 66th minute whose strike flew just over the bar to hit the top of the net.

Through the end of the game, Charlotte dominated possession in search of an equalizer and Nashville sunk deeper into a low block. With eight minutes left, Gary Smith brought on Anibal Godoy and Teal Bunbury for his two stars, Hany Mukhtar and Sam Surridge, to protect their lead.

One of the best chances came for Agyemang in the 87th minute. Byrne cut back to his left foot and served a pinpoint cross to the top of the six. The striker couldn’t get quite enough contact on the header, though, and it sailed wide of the far post.

Charlotte FC threw numbers forward throughout the final 10 minutes plus stoppage time, peppering the Nashville box and having a few penalty shouts waved away. Ultimately, the team was unable to find the equalizer and dropped a tough result 2-1 on the road.