Full Time

The Full Time Clip: Charlotte FC Grab Another Late Home Victory in Back-and-Forth Match Against Toronto FC


New Designated Player Liel Abada scored his first goal for the Club and Patrick Agyemang bundled home a dramatic 86th-minute game-winner.

First Half

Lineup: Kahlina, Lindsey, Tuiloma, Privett, Uronen, Westwood, Diani, Arfield, Vargas, Abada, Copetti

On a beautiful, blue-skied night in Charlotte, the home team started the match aggressively on the front foot. Kerwin Vargas was particularly dangerous in the early stages, and the crowd thought he opened the scoring in the 5th minute when he powered a right-footed shot into the outside of the netting.

Just two minutes later, the Colombian winger once again cut inside on his right foot and stung Toronto goalkeeper Sean Johnson’s hands with a powerful shot. Djibril Diani picked up the rebound and squared it into a dangerous area for Scott Arfield, whose quick instep strike flashed inches wide of the post.

On the opposite wing, Liel Abada was also threatening. Ashley Westwood played a great ball over the top for the young winger, and Abada cleverly flicked it past the defender on the byline. His cross got into a dangerous area, but no one could get a clean shot away as Toronto defenders scrambled well.

The match cooled off for a while after that fast start as both teams knocked the ball around in possession but were unable to find the final incisive pass.

Federico Bernardeschi brought a bolt of energy for Toronto in the 28th minute, juking past Vargas and Jere Uronen from his right wingback position to force Kristijan Kahlina into a save.

On the other end, Abada got a decent chance inside the box after Jaylin Lindsey’s cross made its way back to the winger via a neat Arfield meg. However, he sliced his effort high and wide under pressure from two Toronto defenders.

Finally, in the 39th minute of a match that had been mostly pedestrian for a half hour, Kerwin Vargas got his reward. Bill Tuiloma launched a long ball directly to Enzo Copetti, who held off the Toronto center back to knock the ball down on top of the box. Vargas charged in off the left side and struck the ball first time, lasering it into the bottom corner past Johnson’s outstretched hand.

Charlotte’s winger backflipped his way to the corner to celebrate with Copetti, his good friend off the field and assist-provider on it, as the crowd roared their approval.

From there, CLTFC killed off the half by possessing the ball and took a 1-0 advantage to the locker room.

Second Half

Lineup: Kahlina, Lindsey, Tuiloma, Privett, Uronen, Westwood, Diani, Arfield (67’), Vargas, Abada (91’), Copetti (80’)

Substitutions: Dejaegere (67’), Agyemang (80’), Urso (91’)

To start the second half, Toronto FC Head Coach John Herdman made the first tactical move of the game, changing his squad from a back three to a back four. Jakheele Marshall-Rutty replaced Raoul Petretta and moved into the left-back spot, freeing up Bernardeschi to play as a true right winger. Prince Owusu also entered in favor of Deandre Kerr up top.

The change in system immediately caused Charlotte problems, and Owusu got a quick equalizer in the 49th minute. After Bernardeschi fired a deflected cross into the near post, Bill Tuiloma jumped up and appeared to play the striker offside. The replay showed Owsusu just onside, though, so the goal stood.

Charlotte needed to grab some momentum back after that early gut punch. Liel Abada appeared to take the lead back in emphatic fashion just minutes later. Westwood delivered a free kick (which Abada himself had won) to the Israeli winger, who slammed a volley off the post. The rebound came right back to him, and he expertly finished with his left foot into the roof of the net, sending the crowd into a frenzy.

However, referee Allen Chapman whistled for a foul on Tuiloma on top of the box. The New Zealand international had blocked off a Toronto defender there, but Charlotte players and coaching staff – and crowd, for that matter – were indignant at the decision, believing it was a soft call. The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) checked the play but did not recommend a review.

Abada, though, would not be denied a second time. In the 70th minute, he pounced on a loose square pass from Alonso Coello and put on a burst of speed to drive into the box. He then did exceptionally well to fire off a quick shot, bouncing it in off the far post with exact placement.

The winger picked up a yellow card as he ripped off his shirt in celebration, arms outstretched at the 31,414 fans in attendance at Bank of America Stadium.

However, once again, the lead would not last long. Bernardeschi was the man to create it for the second time, driving in and passing wide for an open Marshall-Rutty. The left-back was barely onside, and his attempted shot deflected off Lindsey directly into Owusu’s path for an easy tap-in.

Charlotte FC started pouring on the pressure for a late winner with Patrick Agyemang – freshly subbed on for Copetti – as the focal point causing problems for the Toronto defense.

Agyemang, of course, was the one to find that winner almost immediately. Lindsey recycled a cleared corner to Brecht Dejaegere in acres of space on the right side. He drove into the box with his first touch and fired it low across the goal, where Agyemang battled through a mess of bodies to redirect the ball into the back of the net.

Charlotte gained the lead for the third time in the match in the 84th minute but they still had plenty of work to do to close out the match. Toronto was knocking on the door, looking to spoil Charlotte’s night one more time. The referee would give The Reds a lifeline by adding eight minutes of extra time following the 90th minute.

However, as the visitors pushed numbers, Charlotte threatened with the like Patrick Agyemang in transition. As the game closed out, Agyemang’s speed and strength proved too much to handle when Toronto’s Kevin Long was forced to bring him down after getting beat, earning him a red card.

Charlotte FC held onto their 3-2 lead, stretching their unbeaten streak at home to 13 matches. This crucial victory earned them three valuable points, catapulting them back into playoff contention.




Charlotte FC vs Minnesota United | April 21 at 7:30 p.m. | Bank of America Stadium

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