Season 2 could be a special one for Charlotte FC
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - In year one of Charlotte FC, the Crown missed the playoffs by just 6 and that’s after a midseason coaching change.
This year’s squad has the potential to be much better than the 2022 edition right from the opening game.
Last season, Charlotte FC did not win a preseason game. This year, they went undefeated including 2 friendly wins at Bank of America Stadium.
A big reason for that, this team is finally comfortable playing Lattanzio’s style of soccer after the coaching change.
“Especially when you take over during the season, there is always an element of adaptation even though I knew the boys very well,” said Charlotte FC head coach Christian Lattanzio. “They were trained to play certain situations differently. To adapt is not always easy and it takes a little bit of time. The biggest difference is this should be clearer about what we want to achieve with the ball and without the ball.”
This past offseason, the MLS expanded the playoffs. Starting this year, the top 9 teams in each conference will make the postseason. If this format would have been in place last year, Charlotte would have made the playoffs as a wildcard team at the 9th spot in the East.
Even more proof that this team is not that far off from taking the next step.
But to make that jump, one stat has to go up and that’s goals scored.
In the preseason, Charlotte had their chances to score goals in bunches, but just couldn’t get it done even though they did enough to win.
In the final preseason friendly against Birmingham, Charlotte created 22 chances to score and only converted 3.
“Our boys do a good job of creating chances with intensity and energy, I just want them to get more for the work that they do,” said coach. “I don’t want to be arrogant and say we are going to score three, four, or five every game, but to create chances, yes.”
Coach wants his team to be aggressive, but that aggression can be a double edge sword at times.
“When we do create, we need to convert and be really focused on stopping the opposition from taking advantage of us being high on the pitch and try to create chances (of their own). As we saw even last year, we conceded some goals on the counter attack. It can happen and this is the other side of the coin, but I’m prepared to take the risk as long as we create chances.”
That’s more of a concern for Charlotte with starting goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina still out after undergoing offseason back surgery. There is no timetable yet on his return, but the team is hoping he won’t be out much longer. So scoring more may be an even bigger key without Khalina in the line up for the time being.
Why is hope so high that more goals can come for this team? Yes, the are more clear on the style of soccer coach is asking, but Charlotte is also much better at the forward position in 2023.
In the offseason, they signed international strikers Andy Westwood and Enzo Copetti. Leading scorer Karol Swiderski is back and Kamil Jozwiak is settling in and starting to look like the player they thought he would be in 2022. 3rd leading scorer Andre Shinyashiki is back coming off the bench and 4th leading score Ben Bender also returns following his rookie campaign.
It all sounds good on paper, but now, it’s time to see what it looks like for rea.
Charlotte FC will kick the season off on Saturday when they host New England at 7:30 at Bank of America Stadium.
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