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Charlotte FC's top 5 players in May

By Brian Maurer

Photo courtesy of CJ Hellner/TopBin90

May was one of Charlotte FC’s better months in team history. This past month, Charlotte kept five consecutive clean sheets, and they only lost once. Here are five of the Crown’s top performers before the bye (including the Atlanta United match on June 2):

Andrew Privett

Privett has been a stalwart on Charlotte FC’s backline. He is one of three players in Charlotte who hasn’t missed a minute and May might have been his strongest month for the Crown in his young career.

One of his stronger performances was against the Chicago Fire, where he made 12 clearances and helped conserve the shutout and Charlotte’s first win on the road. The Penn State graduate did have a few errors that led to shots throughout the month, but he also prevented several goals. The young center-back is one of only two outfield players not to miss any minutes so far this season. Earning himself a contract extension.

Kristijan Kahlina

Kahlina won himself a lot of fans during the five-game clean sheet streak. He made at least one save in each of those five games that saved the team and secured points. In the home game against the LA Galaxy, he came in clutch with several late saves and five overall against one of the strongest attacks in MLS.

His performances have earned him some interest from national pundits, who have discussed him as an MLS All-Star this year. Based on FBRef’s post-shot expected goals (PSxG) stat, Kahlina prevented four goals during the five-game shutout stretch.

Ashley Westwood

The captain is becoming an absolute fan favorite Charlotte. His supporters’ chant has been the first one to click in club history, and his performances are backing up the love from the fans. The most obvious highlight from May was his free-kick goal to win in Chicago. His biggest impact though is that he’s been able to play every minute and has been able to run all over the field, regularly covering the most distance.

A stat from the last month that highlighted how involved Westwood has been on both sides of the ball is the number of shot-creating actions he had (20). He averaged nearly three a game. A solid return from a defensive midfielder.

João Pedro

Pedro has become one of Charlotte’s most consistent and reliable depth piece options this season. During the Crown’s most recent run of games, Pedro started in four of the seven and helped lock down three clean sheets.

The young Brazilian is showing his quality on the ball and he also flashed his defensive ability last month. Pedro was the only regularly playing defensive-line player (Kahlina, Nathan Byrne, Adilson Malanda, and Privett) to not have a defensive error leading to a shot in May. Charlotte has gone from no starting-caliber left backs to two in less than 12 months.

Adilson Malanda

Malanda has become Charlotte’s most hyped player over the last month. Multiple pundits have mentioned him as an MLS All-Star candidate, and the transfer rumors have started to come swirling in. Charlotte’s Front Office stance has been that he is not for sale, with the hype continuing to build around the young Frenchman we will see how long that can last.

The young center-back has shown his ability to perform on and off the ball all season. His medium (91.8% completion rate) and long (60.9%) distance passing is one of the most accurate on the team, He also led the team in clearances in four of Charlotte’s last seven games.

Looking ahead

Charlotte FC has a crucial stretch of games leading up to the Leagues Cup break. The Crown plays two home matches against DC United and Orlando City, who are both far below Charlotte in the Eastern Conference. Afterward, Charlotte plays five of six on the road.

Those six games include the Philadelphia Union, the Houston Dynamo, Inter Miami, FC Cincinnati, the Columbus Crew, and Austin FC. If Charlotte can maintain their position in the standings after this stretch it may just solidify itself as one of the top teams in the East and could set itself up for a decent chance at earning a home-field playoff spot after the Leagues Cup.