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Charlotte FC's projected starting XI vs LA Galaxy

By Ryan Donahue

Photo Courtesy of CJ Hellner

Things are looking good for Dean Smith and Charlotte FC as the side sit fifth in the Eastern Conference. The club picked up its third win in a row on Wednesday night as Ashley Westwood’s free kick in the 60th minute followed up with some key saves from Kristijan Kahlina helped get the side over the finish line and end a disappointing run of away form.

With confidence and momentum around the club at the moment, Charlotte supporters will be eager to see how the side takes on Riqui Puig and the LA Galaxy this weekend at home.

The Galaxy currently sit sixth in the Western conference however the side has yet to win in May having drawn Seattle, Salt Lake, and Minnesota as well as losing to Austin at the end of April.

While the results have been underwhelming recently, the Galaxy will be difficult opposition for Charlotte and it will be important that Smith has a plan to help combat Puig’s creativity and energy in the midfield.

Ahead of the match, our team assessed how we think Smith will line the side up on Saturday night.

Defensively, on the left, Jaylin Lindsey and Joao Pedro will be the options due to Uronen still being out with a groin strain. Smith will likely look to continue with his partnership of Andrew Privett and Adilson Malanda in the center and would expect Nathan Byrne to start again on the right.

In the midfield, Smith may decide to get creative with his pairings. Ashley Westwood, Nikola Petković, and Júnior Urso got the nod to start on Wednesday, however, with Smith needing a solution to combat Puig in the midfield we could see Brandt Bronico return to the starting lineup. Bronico’s high work rate paired with Westwood and Petković or Diani could help stabilize the midfield.

Up front, with the departure of Enzo Copetti officially announced, Charlotte’s front three will likely remain mostly unchanged. With Kerwin Vargas and Patrick Agyemang favorites to start the only change would be bringing back Iuri Tavares to play on one of the wings.

Likely, Dejaegere will feature either from the start or as a second-half substitution.

While the Galaxy remains outside the top five, the side has been potent for goals. The Galaxy has only been shut out twice this season. The Galaxy is one of the most entertaining teams in the league and Charlotte supporters can expect plenty of chances. Los Angeles has the highest number of goals scored in the West but also retains the third-highest number of goals conceded in their conference.

While Charlotte got off to a slow start in front of goal this season, the side has found ways to grind out results. Although third lowest in the East in terms of goal scored the side has been difficult to score against placing third in the East.

In terms of injuries ahead of the match, we could see Bill Tuloma return to full availability while Ben Bender will continue to recover to full fitness. Liel Abada is also not expected to be back until when the side faces the Philadelphia Union next week.

Charlotte against the Galaxy on Saturday night is sure to be an exciting one with some great quality on both sides. With the club coming off its third win in a row, a win against the Galaxy on Saturday would send a significant statement of intent to the rest of the league.