There were celebrations in the away locker room that reverberated throughout Exploria Stadium. Charotte FC earned not just their first points of the season but did so by beating an undefeated Orlando City side in their own home 2-1.
It was a much-needed boost after a rough start to the season for the Crown. The manner in which they won also made the win that much sweeter. It was what head coach Christian Lattanzio called a “complete” performance after his team went up 2-0 in the first half and showed resolve to preserve their lead as Orlando switched on the pressure in the second half.
“Good, it feels really good,” said Lattanzio. “And I am very, very proud of the boys because they played a complete game. They attacked when they when they had the possibility to do it. They defended when they had to.”
“We suffered but in football, you need to fight to impose your game and to impose yourself in the game. I think that has to be part of our DNA, I want a team that are fighters first and foremost.”
Charlotte FC goalkeeper, George Marks, who made his first MLS start since summer of 2022 and came up with some game-saving stops, echoed his coach’s sentiments. Crediting fight and togetherness above all as the reasons for the win and what they lacked a bit of before.
“The thing that we thought we lacked as a team was that base attitude and effort that we want to be known for here at Charlotte FC, the standard that should never be dropped,” said Marks.
“So, regardless of how the tactics played on the soccer field, I thought that was miles better today. The team really showed up for each other, tried to impose their style of play, tried to impose our will on the game... I thought we were really together.”
In addition to the mental shift of the team, Lattanzio made some significant tactical changes that some may have been surprised with. He shifted the formation to a more traditional 4-3-3 and made four personnel changes that included the dropping of DPs Karol Świderski and Kamil Jóźwiak. Things weren’t working and something had to change.
“I made the changes because we play the three games and they gave, I gave certain players the opportunity to play,” said Lattanzio. “I think it's only fair to give all the players opportunities when things don't work the way that we would like them to work. That's why we have a roster. On many occasions, I have said that I really trust all the players on the roster.”
The team made sure to savor their win, but the work has just begun. The next step is to use the win as a launching pad for the rest of the long season ahead, in the more short team, striving to get the first home win of the season against the New York Red Bulls this Saturday.
“Obviously we are happy with the win, but this is the moment I said that during the week [to the team] to not to talk, to put their heads down, keep working despite the win. For me it is the same, keep our heads down, we let other people talk... but we are very determined to improve on a weekly basis.”