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Charlotte FC's projected starting XI vs Philadelphia Union

By Ryan Donahue

Photo Courtesy of CJ Hellner

Charlotte FC supporters will look to keep the good times rolling this weekend as the side returns for another home matchup inside Bank of America facing off against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday at 7:30.

Despite a season so far that would be considered underwhelming by many Philadelphia supporters, the side is still sitting eighth in the Eastern Conference and are only four points behind Charlotte. The caliber of this Union side has not lived up to its previous seasons but the side does have a strong record on the road having won three of its four wins for the season while traveling. 

While Philadelphia will not be an easy side, the timing of this matchup is ideal for Charlotte as Philadelphia has not clicked into gear.

Ahead of the match, our team took a look at how Dean Smith’s side will line up as well as some other relevant news stories that circled across the week.

Projected starting XI

In goal, Kristijan Kahlina has been in impressive form this season having not conceded a goal in almost a month, and will certainly be expected to start.

Defensively, the back four pairing of Adilson Malanda and Andrew Privett will partner at center half with Joao Pedro and Nathan Byrne as the outside backs.

Ashley Westwood will captain the team in the midfield likely with Djibril Diani and we could see Brandt Bronico hold down his place after shutting out Riqui Puig last weekend. Alternatively, if Smith were to make a change here the expected options would most likely be Nikola Petković. One exciting prospect to return to midfield, and who could get minutes off the bench is Ben Bender who Smith announced would be in contention.

Liel Abada could also feature up front as Smith mentioned he would be rejoining the side ahead of the match and would be evaluated for Saturday. It is unclear if Abada will be ready to start this weekend. If he’s not ready the expected front three will likely be Patrick Agyemang up front with Kerwin Vargas, and Iuri Tavares as the likely wide options.

When asked about player availability, Smith did confirm that Brecht Dejaegere would be unavailable due to suspension for the match on Saturday.

Privett’s contract extended

Other exciting news from the club this week includes the extension of Privett’s contract which has been extended to 2028. Privett has been a force for Smith at the back along with Malanda, who have formed one of the best young partnerships in the league. Currently, Charlotte’s backline leads MLS in clean sheets (6).