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Charlotte FC's predicted starting XI vs Philadelphia Union

By Brian Maurer

Photo courtesy of CJ Hellner/TopBin90

Charlotte FC has a quick turnaround against the Philadelphia Union after a hard-fought midweek 2-2 draw where they were down a man for over 50 minutes. Head Coach Dean Smith stated on Wednesday that he could do some rotating after all the extra running the squad had to do shorthanded.

Defensive unit

Kristijan Kahlina will start in goal and the backline will likely stay the same. Adilson Malanda and Andrew Privett are an inseparable duo right now even if they are running a bit on tired legs after all the defensive work on Wednesday night. Nathan Byrne and Jere Uronen could be rotated as Smith has two back-ups in Jaylin Lindsey and João Pedro who are both capable of putting in a good shift in a spot start. Uronen and Byrne are both used to putting in short week shifts so at the same time rotating along the backline does not seem likely.

Midfield three

Ashley Westwood hasn't missed a minute this season and that isn't likely going to change even for a match where Smith is looking to do some rotating. Djibril Diani has been rotated in past weeks so we could see him switched out. With Scott Arfield and Júnior Urso out, Brandt Bronico seems like a lock to start in this one, especially since he was rotated out on Wednesday.

Smith said after Wednesday's match that Ben Bender is getting close to being fit enough to start, but this weekend that does not seem likely. With Brecht Dejaegere's minutes continuing to diminish this seems like a match where Nikola Petković could in a spot start.

Attacking line

Patrick Agyemang has shown the fitness and work rate to start even on a short week. With the lack of depth at the striker position he is likely locked in from the start. It's more likely that Smith rotates his wingers. Liel Abada has not gone a full 90 since returning from injury, which likely means Smith is concerned about his fitness and health. While he is pivotal to Charlotte's attack the head coach will probably consider the long-term risks as well.

Kerwin Vargas has only missed one match this season and he is starting to get on a roll with a goal contribution in three straight games. Vargas is likely locked in even on tired legs because of his ability as a two-way player.

Projected starting XI