Full Time

The Full Time Clip: Charlotte FC Earn a Home Point After Early Red Card


Kerwin Vargas and Brandt Bronico scored in 2-2 home draw after Scott Arfield’s first-half red card put CLTFC down a man for 50 minutes

First Half

Lineup: Kahlina, Byrne, Malanda, Privett, Uronen, Westwood, Diani, Arfield, Abada, Vargas, Agyemang

On Wednesday night in North Carolina, Charlotte FC and Orlando City SC wasted no time in getting the chances flowing inside the first five minutes.

First, Liel Abada burst through with pace and tried to fire the ball low across the goal. Patrick Agyemang couldn’t get a touch on it despite lunging at full stretch. On the other end, Duncan McGuire had a huge chance for Orlando after an Ashley Westwood turnover but fired his chance well wide of the near post.

Charlotte FC struck first through Kerwin Vargas, who scored in his second consecutive match after netting last Saturday’s match-winner. Abada was once again pivotal, playing a smart one-two with Scott Arfield before taking a big touch in behind and sprinting past his defender. He cut it back inside the box, and Orlando misplayed the clearance, allowing Vargas to easily pass the ball into the back of the net.

Jere Uronen nearly doubled the lead for CLTFC a few minutes later, smashing an impressive long-range strike off the crossbar with his weaker right foot. Arfield also had a chance to shoot on goal after Abada squared a pass to him on top of the box, but his effort was saved.

Going the other way, Orlando was getting into good areas and creating a few more moments of danger than Charlotte typically concedes. Kahlina was forced into a save in the 19th minute on a Facundo Torres header and later did well to hold a deflected Nico Lodeiro shot.

The match completely changed in the 35th minute when Arfield earned a straight red card, reducing CLTFC to ten men for the remainder of the game. Initially, referee Allen Chapman gave a yellow card, but a video review confirmed that Arfield caught Felipe Martins with his studs from behind, and the decision was escalated to red. Martins was forced to sub off a few minutes later.

From there, The Crown committed to defending deep and hitting on the counter with the pace of their front three. Westwood and Djibril Diani continued playing as a midfield pivot, just with less support in front of them with the absence of Arfield.

Things seemingly got worse in stoppage time when Adilson Malanda took Luis Muriel’s shot to the side of the head. CLTFC athletic trainers rushed onto the field to treat the Frenchman. He left the field under his own power, and the team rode out the final minute of the half with nine men to retain their 1-0 advantage going into halftime.

Second Half

Lineup: Kahlina, Byrne, Malanda, Privett, Uronen, Westwood, Diani (82’), Abada (68’), Vargas (68’), Agyemang (87’)

Substitutions: Bronico (68’), Bender (68’), Petkovic (82’), Tavares (87’)

Fortunately, Malanda was deemed fit to continue at halftime, and Head Coach Dean Smith kept his team unchanged after the break. Orlando Head Coach Oscar Pareja, trying to leverage his side’s man advantage, sacrificed a defender for an attacker at halftime. Dagur Thorhallsson exited, and Ivan Angula entered.

Torres immediately had a big chance from the second-half kickoff, firing a volley at the near post that Kahlina palmed away for a corner.

In the 50th minute, Agyemang and Abada sprinted in behind in a two versus one from the halfway line. Torres came sprinting back and tugged Agyemang down from behind, earning a yellow card but smartly preventing a great opportunity.

Charlotte nearly doubled the lead twice more in the next minute. From the resulting free-kick, the ball fell to a completely free Abada, but Orlando goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar closed down the angle for an impressive isolated save out for a corner. Uronen then whipped in that corner to Diani’s head, but the French midfielder’s header drifted just over the bar.

Abada – Charlotte FC’s Designated Player winger – was firing on all cylinders all night. In the 59th minute, Vargas played a wonderful switch to find Abada streaking into space. The Israeli settled it, cut inside on his left foot, and his shot took a wicked deflection off Robin Jansson to go agonizingly wide of the post.

Orlando found their equalizer in the 64th minute through star striker Duncan McGuire. Torres headed Muriel’s chipped cross back across goal for McGuire to arrive and smartly finish into the far corner.

With that, Dean Smith immediately went to his bench. Brandt Bronico and Ben Bender entered the match in place of Liel Abada and Kerwin Vargas, who had both put in a huge amount of work to cover ground defensively after the red card.

The two subs almost immediately connected as Bronico served in a cross for Bender on the back post. However, he couldn’t direct his header on target with enough pace under heavy pressure from his defender.

Defensively, those substitutions put Charlotte into more of a diamond midfield (rather than a flat four). Bronico and Diani played next to and slightly ahead of the deeper-lying Westwood, while Bender supported Agyemang as a central attacking midfielder.

In the 75th minute, Martin Ojeda had a good chance for Orlando free on the near post, but he snapped his header well over the bar.

Then, in the 77th minute, Brandt Bronico got the all-important goal to put Charlotte FC back on top, even down a man. Uronen hooked a long ball in behind for Agyemang to chase down. In typical fashion, the young American bullied Jansson off the ball and won the follow-up tackle with Luis Muriel. He then had the composure to lay it off for Bronico, who calmly chipped his finish over Stajduhar.

However, the joy was short-lived. Kahlina made an incredible reaction save in the 80th minute, but Facundo Torres rifled in an excellent volley through traffic off the resulting corner to equalize for the Lions. Shortly after, Nikola Petkovic entered the match to replace Djibril Diani in the 82nd minute.

Kahlina continued to stand on his head, pushing a point-blank shot off the post to preserve the draw in the 84th minute. Patrick Agyemenang’s shift would end three minutes later as he was replaced by Iuri Tavares in the 87th minute.

Charlotte FC's performance didn't once hint they were playing a man down, making the draw something to be proud of. Playing with 10 men for over half the match, they not only salvaged a point but also managed to score again. That they might feel disappointed at not securing all three points underscores their remarkable resilience in the face of adversity.

Charlotte faces an even shorter recovery period before their next match, which swiftly approaches on Saturday as they head on the road to face the Philadelphia Union.




Saturday, July 22nd | Kickoff at 7:30 PM | Caswell Station