By Sam Vanolinda
Photo courtesy of Cisco's Art
Charlotte FC picked up a much-needed win Wednesday night, defeating Toronto FC in a dominating display under the lights in Bank of America Stadium, winning 3-0.
Two Karol Świderski penalties and an Olivier Giroud-esque Brecht Dejaegere scorpion kick were enough to defeat bottom-of-the-east Toronto, who had few chances throughout the match.
Charlotte sits in 13th in the East. They are only two points off a playoff spot with three games remaining, with a game in hand to every team surrounding them, and two games in hand on D.C United; Playoffs are still very much in reach if the Crown can win two or three of their remaining games.
They face Chicago on the road Saturday before facing the likely Messi-less Inter Miami twice to end the season.
Here are three takeaways from this triumphant victory.
Giving up a late penalty against Philadelphia that cost Charlotte FC two points on September 20th, Dejaegere had his worst moment in his short Charlotte FC career.
His best moment so far came last night, when he scored an incredible scorpion kick goal to secure the three points for Charlotte.
The third goal was crucial for a team that had blown a late 2-0 lead two weeks ago, and Dejaegere ended any Toronto comeback hopes in style. After such a crushing mistake 14 days ago, the Belgian showed his experience and quality on the ball against Toronto and alongside Swiderski, led Charlotte in a must-win game to victory.
“It was a hard knock, especially being one of the experienced guys,” Dejaegere said about the penalty he gave up against Philadelphia, “...I always play for the team, and I felt like I let them down…I’m really happy that I could help the team today…It was important after the Loss against Philadelphia here that we could take a victory today.”
Dejaegeres's goal came from pure instinct after Jozwiak’s cross was deflected. The ball came to Świderski, and he flicked it towards Dejaegere, who couldn’t reach the ball in a normal way, so he used his heel to flick the ball into the net.
“The instinct took over… the only way to get to the ball was with a scorpion kick; I have to review it; I saw a lot of people talking about me- ‘goal of the year and everything,’ maybe I have to watch it again,” Dejaegere added.
Świderski Will Be Missed
Karol Świderski had one of the best games of his Charlotte career last night. His two goals took him to 11 this season and back-to-back years with double digits.
The Polish international showed his quality with two great penalty finishes and an assist, earning himself a 9.1 rating. In his new 10 position, Świderski thrived in pushing up when receiving balls on the turn from the midfield and using his technical abilities to glide past players and create chances.
Despite him thriving in Charlotte, his great performances entice Świderski more to push toward a European move, and he has made it clear this season that Charlotte can be expecting a transfer soon.
“Of course I want to play in Europe’s top leagues, maybe the Europa League and Champions League, I think this is normal, but I'm happy to be here, I play every game, score some goals, it’s not like I need to move tomorrow… Of course, I want to go to Europe, but it’s not like I need to go now.”
It seems in the offseason that if Charlotte receives a reasonable bid from a European team, the Talisman could be heading back across the Atlantic- You can’t blame him for wanting to be back playing at the highest level, but performances like tonight will make it hard for Charlotte fans to say goodbye.
Keeping the Energy in Chicago
Charlotte FC was not the only team with a big victory Wednesday. Chicago Fire also won 4-1 versus Inter Miami. Both Chicago and Charlotte are competing for a playoff spot, and now they face in Soldier Field in what will be an intense game.
Charlotte should take the energy from this win on the road. They looked very uninspired in New England on Saturday, but the team will have a much more positive attitude after a 3-0 win heading into the weekend.
This game will set the tone for the rest of the season, if the Crown can win, and Messi does not return in the Miami games, playoffs are very realistic.
Dejaegere mentioned quickly turning the team's attention to the Windy City post-game.
“The head is straight away to Chicago, we didn’t achieve nothing yet… everybody is straight in mind to Chicago,” Dejaegere said.
Charlotte took care of business against a struggling side Wednesday, but the season depends on what type of fight they can show this weekend in Chicago.