Full Time

The Full Time Clip: Charlotte FC Extends Unbeaten Home Record to 12 Against FC Cincinnati


CLTFC drew the defending Supporter’s Shield Champions just one week after beating the defending MLS Cup Champions.

Djibril Diani earned and scored a second half penalty kick.

First Half

Lineup: Kahlina, Byrne, Malanda, Privett, Uronen, Westwood, Diani, Petkovic, Vargas, Dejaegere, Agyemang

The vibes were high in Bank of America Stadium pre-match, as 30,043 fans screamed out the starters’ last names and jumped with backs turned for the iconic Pepzan tradition. The team on the field channeled that energy and got off to a hot start.

First, Ashley Westwood split the Cincinnati defense with a pinpoint through ball in just the 2nd minute to send Kerwin Vargas streaking in behind. The Colombian winger smartly took his shot first-time but blazed it over the bar.

Then, after excellent build-up play in the 13th minute, a Charlotte FC corner found Vargas alone on the penalty spot, but his header couldn’t clear the traffic. The rebound ended up back with Kahlina, who lobbed it in for an Andrew Privett flick-on. Brecht Dejaegere held it up inside the box and got it back to the young American, but his great chance to curl it into the far corner ended up in the stands.

The CLTFC momentum kept piling on as they dominated possession. Five minutes later, Vargas played a brilliant cross into the area and Patrick Agyemang stole in front of Nick Hagglund to get the first touch. Cincinnati goalkeeper Roman Celentano, though, made a good point-blank reaction save.

Agyemang was a handful for Hagglund over this opening period. Nathan Byrne stood up a cross for him in the 20th minute with Agyemang ready to dunk, but Hagglund got his positioning right to clear it. CLTFC’s striker also had a penalty shout just after, but referee Rubiel Vazquez rightly waved it away.

After a dominant opening 25 minutes for CLTFC, Kristijan Kahlina got involved for the first time. Corey Baird found space and time inside the box, but the Croatian was up to the task, flashing two hands up to block the effort.

With that big chance, FC Cincinnati found a foothold in the game. Both teams traded some half chances (Yuya Kubo and Nikola Petkovic had long-range efforts on either end), and then Cincinnati exerted more control with longer spells of possession to create some nervy moments inside the box for CLTFC defenders and fans, alike.

Vargas continued to be a threat, nearly finding a back post header from a Dejaegere delivery and then almost scoring again from the resulting Jere Uronen corner. Both were well defended in the end, though.

He had the most dangerous moment of the closing few moments, too. A back-to-front CLTFC buildup released Westwood into space for him to thread in Vargas. The young winger went for – and found – the nutmeg, but then he couldn’t get to the other side of the defender for a shot.

Another Cincinnati danger moment came and went into the stands at the end of stoppage time, and with that, the teams headed to the locker rooms tied at zero.

Second Half

Lineup: Kahlina, Byrne, Malanda, Privett, Uronen, Westwood, Diani, Petkovic (61'), Vargas (90'+6'), Dejaegere (74'), Agyemang (74')

Substitutions: Abada (61'), Urso (74'), Copetti (74'), Bronico (90'+6')

To start the second half, Cincinnati Head Coach Pat Noonan replaced Nick Hagglund with Ian Murphy at center back. Charlotte Head Coach Dean Smith, for his part, kept the same eleven but had Vargas and Dejaegere swap sides, with Vargas now inverted on the left.

The match took a bit to get going again. Agyemang had a flash of danger after chasing down a long ball from Westwood. Miazga misplayed it, gifting the striker a chance to get in behind, but ultimately the angle was far too tight for him to have a chance at scoring.

Just a minute later, though, Agyemang had a real chance to bury the opener. Djibril Diani stripped the ball off Lucho Acosta before Petkovic sent it in behind. The American striker’s first two touches were excellent under pressure at full speed, but his finish ripped agonizingly wide of the near post.

Charlotte could only be denied for so long, though. Just before the hour mark, Uronen found Diani just inside the box, and the Frenchman skipped past his defender and cleverly earned a clear penalty.

After two missed penalties in five matches, the pressure was high on the third taker. Club Captain Ashley Westwood stood with the ball on the penalty spot, but he was simply protecting the area to keep the attention and antics away from the true taker – Djibril Diani himself. The Frenchman dispatched the penalty straight down the middle with his typical calm, relaxed personality.

Straight after, Petkovic exited, and new Designated Player Liel Abada entered the game for his Charlotte FC debut. He immediately made an impact, driving with venom through midfield in the 65th minute to earn a dangerous free kick (which Vargas fired into the wall).

Cincinnati responded by bringing on Obinna Nwobodo, their DP defensive midfield stalwart, to solidify their midfield and push Yuya Kubo further forward. Charlotte also brought their other DP on with Enzo Copetti and Junior Urso replacing Agyemang and Dejaegere.

Copetti nearly combined for a goal with Abada in the 78th minute. He got in behind Matt Miazga from a long clearance and was able to hold it up outside the box, squaring it for his new teammate. However, Abada’s first touch wasn’t quite clean enough, and his resulting shot flashed just over the bar.

On the other end, Luca Orellano troubled Kahlina with a long-range strike in the 81st minute. The CLTFC goalkeeper was forced to palm the knuckling effort over the bar, and he then bravely claimed the resulting corner kick.

The Crown likely should have doubled the lead a few minutes later. Junior Urso brilliantly picked out Vargas on the far post with an early cross, but the Colombian couldn’t control his side-footed strike off the bounce, and it went over the goal.

Cincinnati seemed to be running out of time to find their equalizer, but they were given a lifeline when the referee indicated an additional 8 minutes of play. Capitalizing on this extended time, FCC's Gerardo Valenzuela delivered a threaded-through ball to Sergio Santos in the 93rd minute. The Brazilian delivered a centering pass that a blitzing Deandre Yedlin managed to beat his defender to and flick towards striker Aaron Boupendza, who pounced on it to tap in the equalizing goal.

Charlotte will lament the missed scoring chances that could have secured victory. Yet, they can maintain their pride with a fearless display against the Eastern Conference's top team, all while securing a valuable point and extending their undefeated streak at home to 12.