Full Time

The Full Time Clip: Charlotte FC Fall in Tight Match on the Road at Toronto FC


CLTFC lose for the first time this season after a late Lorenzo Insigne wonder goal

First Half

Lineup: Kahlina, Byrne, Malanda, Privett, Uronen, Westwood, Urso, Dejaegere, Vargas, Tavares, Copetti

Charlotte FC came into Saturday’s match in Toronto knowing the two main threats for their opponent: Italian superstars Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi. Those two forwards nearly linked up in just the first minute, as Insigne lifted the ball in behind for Bernardeschi, but he couldn’t quite control it.

CLTFC also had an early flash of danger, though, as Junior Urso was first to a Jere Uronen corner in the 6th minute. His header drifted an agonizing few inches wide of the far post as he dropped to the ground, head in hands at the near miss.

The next series of two corners for The Crown again led to danger. After Andrew Privett had the first one deflected wide on the far post, Enzo Copetti earned a decent chance on the second. Ashley Westwood headed the ball back in to be flicked on by Adilson Malanda to Copetti, but the Argentine striker couldn’t generate enough power to beat Luka Gavran in the Toronto goal.

At the quarter hour mark, Iuri Tavares – fresh off his first MLS goal in Vancouver – intercepted a pass, skipped through the Toronto midfield, and slotted Copetti in behind. On a full sprint, the striker got a touch to try to go around an onrushing Gavran, who got just enough of the ball to avoid a penalty. Despite a subsequent Video Assistant Referee (VAR) review in which Insigne picked up a yellow card for his complaints, the penalty was not awarded.

Center back Andrew Privett has made a habit of crucial interventions so far this season and did so again in the 30th minute. A deflection allowed the ball to fall to Kobe Franklin inside the box, and he seemed to have a free chance at goal. Privett, though, got a lunging block in to send the shot over the crossbar.

Despite Toronto’s possession dominance, it was Charlotte with arguably the best chance of the first half. Westwood found a great attacking pocket, feeding it to Copetti at the top of the box. The Argentine’s first touch was excellent to take him past Kevin Long, but he couldn’t find the finish as Gavran came up with a big save.

The Italians reversed their first minute connection soon after, with Bernardeschi chipping in behind for Insigne, who was ultimately offside after missing the chance. Despite the flag, it was a sharp reminder of the danger the two forwards can create in a flash.

Ultimately, after a very back-and-forth half, the two sides entered the locker room knotted at zero.

Second Half

Lineup: Kahlina, Byrne, Malanda, Privett, Uronen, Westwood, Urso (87’), Dejaegere, Vargas (82’), Tavares (72’), Copetti (71’)

Substitutions: Agyemang (71’), Arfield (72’), Berchimas (82’), Petkovic (87’)

Both sides came out with aggression to start the second half. For CLTFC, Urso pressed well high up the field a few minutes in, getting the ball to Brecht Dejaegere to cleverly win a dangerous free kick. Uronen struck the free kick well with his left foot but wide of the post.

Outside of that free kick, the rhythm of the first half continued in the second. Toronto had a higher share of possession, but Charlotte looked comfortable defending deep when needed and more effectively created chances going forward.

Bernardeschi found the biggest chance 15 minutes in, snapping a shot through traffic on his favored left foot. Kristijan Kahlina, however, dove quickly and saved well. That chance, along with two substitutions by TFC Head Coach John Herdman, began ratcheting up the home crowd and offensive momentum.

To combat that momentum shift, CLTFC Head Coach Dean Smith turned to two familiar attacking changes: Patrick Agyemang and Scott Arfield. Copetti and Tavares exited.

The game at this point was much more open than the first half, as transition moments and half chances were plentiful. Neither side, though, had the cutting edge required to find the breakthrough or a clear chance.

Matches like that are often won by a moment of individual brilliance. That moment of brilliance came from the most likely Toronto source, Lorenzo Insigne. A series of corners kept Charlotte pinned deep, and the Italian picked up a recycled ball, cutting inside to laser it into the top corner from deep and leaving Kahlina stranded with no chance.

Young Homegrown Nimfasha Berchimas replaced Kerwin Vargas at the restart. Nikola Petkovic, signed to a U-22 Initiative deal this offseason after spending 2023 with Crown Legacy FC, entered for his MLS debut with five minutes to go.

The late deficit was the first time Charlotte FC had trailed so far this season, and the team were unable to create a dramatic match-tying moment in the final few minutes and dropped to 1-1-1 on the season.



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