Full Time

The Full Time Clip: Charlotte FC Snap Shutout Streak in Weather-Delayed Match against New York Red Bulls 


CLTFC conceded three goals in the second half after an hour-plus severe weather delay during halftime, ending a Club-record shutout streak at 523 minutes; Ben Bender marked his return from injury with late stoppage-time goal

First Half

Lineup: Kahlina, Byrne, Malanda, Privett, Pedro, Westwood, Diani, Bronico, Abada, Vargas, Agyemang

The Wednesday night weather in Harrison, New Jersey, was picture-perfect for a match at Red Bull Arena (spoilers: it didn't stay that way for long). As matches typically do against the high-pressing, high-energy New York Red Bulls, it started off in a chaotic, back-and-forth fashion.

The Red Bulls created the first big chance just two minutes in. Dylan Nealis came flying in to meet a cross that stood up to the back post, crashing over the stationary Joao Pedro but putting his header wide of Kristijan Kahlina’s post.

Charlotte FC nearly opened the scoring in the 9th minute through a lightning-quick counterattack. Liel Abada, freshly back in Dean Smith’s starting lineup after an injury layoff, broke forward and slotted a ball into the channel for Patrick Agyemang. The young striker shrugged off his defender in the box and chopped it back onto his left foot. His shot left Coronel stranded but clanged straight back off the near post.

It took until the 22nd minute for the next big chance (not counting a big Kahlina save on a chance that was waved off for offside regardless), and it was Abada again at the center of the action. Agyemang challenged for a 50-50 header, but it was flicked on for Abada by a Red Bulls defender, keeping the Israeli onside. He burst in behind with two prep touches but fired his shot right at Red Bulls goalkeeper Carlos Coronel from a great position.

The match continued chaotically throughout much of the first half. Kahlina, along with Adilson Malanda and Andrew Privett in front of him, dealt well with the Red Bulls press by picking the right times to skip over them with precise long balls to the wingers or Agyemang up top.

Bronico had a decent chance inside the box from a broken corner kick play, but lingered too long on the ball and was stripped from behind. The resulting deflections ended up with Abada on top of the box, but his shot through traffic was comfortably saved by Coronel.

Abada led a counter attack that fizzled out in the 37th minute, driving forward despite being dragged back by a trailing midfielder throughout. His speed to attack the space left by the Red Bulls’ high press was Charlotte’s most consistent weapon throughout the half, and his chemistry with Agyemang up top was clear to see.

Both teams had extended spells of possession as the half drew to a close. The most exciting flash point was when both Elias Manoel and Privett picked up yellow cards in stoppage time when the former clattered into Kahlina and tempers flared.

Ultimately, neither team could capitalize on their dangerous moments, so they entered the locker rooms knotted at zeroes…

…and stayed there for much longer than they would have thought.

Second Half

Lineup: Kahlina, Byrne, Malanda, Privett, Pedro (83’), Westwood, Diani, Bronico (75’), Abada (70’), Vargas, Agyemang

Substitutions: Smalls (70’), Bender (75’), Lindsey (83’)

A lengthy severe weather delay began after the halftime whistle blew and lasted over an hour. The teams entered the locker rooms at 8:30 p.m. but didn’t reemerge until 9:45 p.m. A short 10-minute warmup later amidst the pouring rain, the second half finally kicked off.

Three minutes in, Kahlina was called into action. New York’s DP number 10, Emil Forsberg, found space just inside the box and side-footed a curler to the far post, but CLTFC’s Croatian keeper dove for a strong left-handed save. RBNY had a good chance on the back post from the resulting corner, overloading Joao Pedro, but were unable to put the ball on target.

The Red Bulls continued their early momentum with Lewis Morgan breaking down the left side and cutting it back for the arriving Wikelman Carmona from midfield. Carmona, however, put his one-time effort wide of the post, wasting a gilt-edged chance. The midfielder had another chance a minute later but put the ball right at a grateful Kahlina.

CLTFC finally found a foothold ten minutes in. Once again, Abada and Agyemang were combining well, with the Israeli cutting inside for a one-two with the American, but his goal-bound shot was blocked.

In the 59th minute, Agyemang went on a trademark, bruising run. Joao Pedro hooked a pass into the channel for him to chase, and he easily knocked Andres Reyes (not a small man) to the ground. He ran free into the box, jinked left when a defender arrived, then jinked to the right to get a shot away. The ball drifted wide of the far post, and a sliding Abada couldn’t reach it to tap it in.

A minute later, Agyemang beat Coronel to a 50-50 ball outside the box but then was at too tight of an angle to chip it over the retreating goalkeeper and defenders. However, at this point, Charlotte was well and truly back on even footing in the match.

In the 66th minute, Elias Manoel – who has an excellent goal-scoring record against The Crown – put a free header from the middle of the box well wide.

With a quarter-hour remaining, both coaches went to their benches. Red Bulls Head Coach Sandro Schwarz brought on Designated Player Dante Vanzeir and Dennis Gjengaar, while Dean Smith introduced Tyger Smalls to the game to replace Abada (who got 70 minutes in his first start back from injury).

In the 73rd minute, a Vargas foul right at the top of the box set up the Red Bulls for a great free-kick opportunity. Ultimately, it took a free kick to end Charlotte FC’s epic shutout streak at 523 minutes, as Forsberg rifled his strike past a helpless Kahlina to give New York a 1-0 advantage.

Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse within a minute. Malanda misread the bounce of a long ball on the soaked grass, allowing Morgan in behind to square across for a wide-open Forsberg to pass home into an open goal for his brace.

On the brighter side of things, CLTFC fans were sure to be thrilled to see Ben Bender finally make his return after a knee injury cut his 2023 season short and cost him the beginning of the 2024 season. The former #1 overall SuperDraft pick out of Maryland entered between the two RBNY goals for Brandt Bronico in midfield.

Agyemang tried to earn a penalty off Reyes in the 80th minute, as the defender seemed to clatter into him from behind inside the box. However, referee Chris Penso didn’t buy it (despite there being definite contact from behind on the play) and issued Agyemang a yellow card for simulation. To be fair, there weren’t many complaints from the young striker or his teammates.

A minute later, Joao Pedro fell awkwardly as he attempted to volley the ball clear and had to be replaced by Jaylin Lindsey. He did walk off under his own power, though, cradling his left arm.

Right away from the ensuing corner, Charlotte FC couldn’t get the ball clear. It dropped into a pile of players, and Reyes was able to poke it home into the far corner to make it 3-0.

On the other end, Agyemang seemed to really earn a penalty from a foul by Reyes this time as he was tripped up trying to shield the ball. This time, the Charlotte FC coaching staff and players were up in arms over the decision, and Ashley Westwood picked up a yellow card in the aftermath for dissent.

He kept going to war with Reyes, once again spilling him to the ground to spin in behind. This time, he found the pass to Bender, but the midfielder fired his good chance right at Coronel.

The team kept fighting all the way until the final whistle, especially Agyemang up top. He earned a free kick from a Reyes foul halfway through stoppage time, which went out for a corner. The team came close but couldn’t fashion a clear chance.

Finally, Agyemang got the goal contribution he deserved right at the death. Westwood put a long ball straight behind for the striker, who took it down brilliantly with his head and set it back for Ben Bender. The midfielder faked with his left and shot with his right, and a heavy deflection looped it over a diving Coronel to bring one back for The Crown.

When all was said and done, though, CLTFC dropped a 3-1 loss on the road after a tough spell put them in too deep of a hole to dig themselves out of.

Next up, the team travels to rival Atlanta United FC on Sunday, June 2nd.