Full Time

The Full Time Clip: Charlotte FC Suffers Late Heartbreak Against Inter Miami CF


After the teams were level at halftime, Miami snatched a late winner to take all three points.

First Half

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

With captain Ashley Westwood back in the lineup after sitting out due to yellow card accumulation suspension last week, Charlotte FC opened the match comfortably dominating possession in front of 47,218 fans at Bank of America Stadium.

The first big chance came in the 15th minute from a well-worked short corner. Jere Uronen served a cross to the back post, where Adilson Malanda headed it back across goal. Unfortunately, all the CLTFC players in the box overran it, and Miami cleared.

Liel Abada started brightly, continuing to affect games as he has over the last month with his speed and direct play on the right wing. In the 21st minute, he spun Inter Miami center back Sergii Kryvtsov and sped away into the attacking half. The Ukrainian defender had to scythe him down on the second attempt and received a yellow card.

On the other wing, Kerwin Vargas nearly opened the scoring in the 25th minute. Westwood clipped in a pass beyond the Miami back line, but Vargas couldn’t get a foot on it at an awkward angle, and the ball bounced just past the far post.

CLTFC continued to pile on the pressure. This time, it was Patrick Agyemang’s turn to come close to the opening goal. Vargas put him through in behind, and he brilliantly cut it back inside on Kryvtsov to open up an angle to shoot on his right foot. Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender, though, made a strong save to keep the game scoreless.

Unfortunately, despite Charlotte’s dominance over the opening half hour, Miami scored the first goal in the 30th minute. After a good switch of play, Jordi Alba received a pass on the overlap. He cut it back to find a wide-open Robert Taylor at the six-yard box for a simple finish.

The Crown got right back to work in search of an equalizer just a few minutes later. Agyemang had two bites of the apple in a chaotically unlucky sequence. Bronico stripped a Miami player of the ball right on top of the box, and Agyemang smashed his long-range effort past a beaten Callender and right off the inside of the post. He got the ball back inside the box, chopped it onto his left foot, and his blocked shot looped up and over the crossbar.

Finally, in the 41st minute, Agyemang got his reward and bullied his way to a great goal. From a Uronen throw-in, the striker won a shoulder-to-shoulder battle with Tomas Aviles and took two long touches to sprint past the rest of the defense, seemingly covering the entire half of the field in a few strides. With Alba closing in and Abada potentially available to square across for tap-in, Agyemang confidently opened up his hips and curled the ball into the far side netting.

A lengthy VAR review – over four minutes long – took a look at Agyemang’s challenge on Aviles, but referee Rubiel Vazquez eventually decided there was no foul on the play.

During the seven minutes of stoppage time, both Alba and Vargas had opportunities to strike a volley on goal. Alba’s chance was the better and closer of the two, as his effort skimmed a foot wide of the post to let CLTFC off the hook. Vargas skied his over the bar, and he also sent a great look over the bar with the last play of the half.

Second Half

Lineup: Kahlina, Byrne, Malanda, Privett, Uronen, Westwood, Diani (76’), Bronico, Abada (87’), Vargas (87’), Agyemang

Substitutions: Tavares (76’), Smalls (87’), Dejaegere (87’)

Both sides created some half chances in the opening ten minutes, and Charlotte FC looked particularly effective on the counterattack. Alba consistently committed very high up the field from his left-back position, a trend the CLTFC players were clearly aware of. They found Abada multiple times to attack the channel Alba left wide open.

Between the 60th and 65th minutes, Miami and Charlotte traded good chances. First, Julian Gressel received a cross that floated over Nathan Byrne’s head, but his first touch let him down, and it rolled into Kristijan Kahlina’s arms. Going the other way, Vargas and Abada played a brilliant one-two combo. Alba made a good block, but it fell right to Agyemang, who went for a toe poke, given the limited amount of time he had. The ball bounced up on him, though, and it flew over the bar.

Kahlina made a big save in the 73rd minute. A corner fell inside the box, creating a chaotic scramble amidst a sea of bodies. Diego Gomez struck it from point-blank range but right at Kahlina, who stood strong to deflect it out with his knee.

Head Coach Dean Smith made his first change in the 75th minute, bringing on Iuri Tavares in place of Djibril Diani. This move shifted Brandt Bronico back to a more of a defensive midfield role alongside Westwood with Tavares as the attacking midfielder.

CLTFC continued hitting Miami on the break throughout the second half. The team had multiple 3v3 and 4v4 opportunities but just couldn’t find the final pass or shot.

In the 82nd minute, Alba played a good switch to Gressel, who one-timed it across the six-yard box. Kahlina made a brave stop, charging out to deny the cross and take Leo Campana’s studs to his leg in the process.

Four minutes later, though, Gressel did find the final pass to snatch a game-winner for Miami. After taking down a long ball, he whipped in an incredible pass that curled right past Andrew Privett. Benjamin Cremaschi got on the end of it at full stretch and redirected it to the far corner to put the Herons up 2-1.

Brecht Dejaegere – who entered the game right after the goal – had a late penalty shout when it seemed he might have been dragged down inside the box, but referee Rubiel Vazquez waved it away. Straight after in the first minute of stoppage time, Agyemang had a similar shout, but Vazquez vehemently waved away that one, too.

The final big chance came from a wide free kick that another late sub, Tyger Smalls, earned with a burst of pace. Unfortunately, in the middle of an intense melee, while prepping for the service, Agyemang earned a straight red card for what appeared to be a frustrated stomp on a Miami defender.

After the chaos subsided and Charlotte’s young striker exited the field, Uronen whipped in a good service to the back post. However, Privett couldn’t direct his header on goal from an extremely tight angle.

In the end, Charlotte FC were unable to find a late equalizer to salvage a result, dropping a heartbreaking – and rare – loss at home.