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Charlotte FC Stock Up, Stock Down: Agyemang gets a finish, Diani shines at home

By Sam Vanolinda and Brian Maurer

Djibril Diani (Photo courtesy of Cisco's Art)

Charlotte FC vs Columbus Crew

The Bank is starting to become a fortress for Charlotte FC. After one of the craziest first halves of football, The Crown managed to use their man advantage and score two timely second-half goals, leading to a huge win against the champs, without a DP.

The first half contained a multitude of injuries, a red card, an almost impossible miss, a called-back goal for Charlotte, a called-back goal for Columbus, a missed penalty, and over an hour of game time passing before the fans could take their bathroom breaks at the half.

“A thousand games in football, I've never done 62 minutes in a first half,” Head Coach Dean Smith said post-game, “...Perseverance, patience, and trying to do the right thing managed to get us the win in the end.”

A beautiful strike from Ashley Westwood and an assured finish from Patrick Agyemang led Charlotte to all three points Saturday night.

Stock Up

João Pedro

Pedro stepped in for Jere Uronen, who had just gotten back from International duty, at the left-back position Saturday.

Pedro came in and looked like a veteran player; his passing was great, and defensively he was solid, showing why it was a great decision to bring him up from Crown Legacy FC this year.

Pedro plays similarly to fellow Brazilian CB/LB Igor, who plays for Brighton and Hove Albion. He is not the typical wing-back who is going to be incredibly progressive on the attacking side, but he is composed on the ball, great in the air, and can be trusted to build attacks with his passing ability. 

Pedro had a couple of impressive diagonal passes and helped preserve a clean sheet, his stock is on the rise after he looks to have secured a rotational role within the first team with this spot start.

Djibril Diani 

In his home debut, Diani was the man of the match with an assist, 90% passing accuracy, four tackles won, three interceptions and seven duels won. 

It was a masterclass from the center-mid position for Diani, who has already proven to be a smart signing in the transfer window. 

The Frenchman teamed up with Westwood in the double pivot to defend impressively and move the ball toward the attack, with a great pass through to Agyemang for the second goal.

“Diani played really well,” Smith said, “He did what he had to do, caused problems, I thought JP (Pedro), it was his debut today, full debut, I thought he was excellent today as well. Defended balls over the top really well, was calm on the ball, it helps that those two know each other really well, they’re thick as thieves whenever you see them, you don’t normally see one without the other.”

Seems like Diani and Pedro have a good partnership going, it will be exciting to see how they play together as the season goes on.

Patrick Agyemang

All Charlotte FC needs this year is good finishing and the results will come. The xG is high, the chances are being created, and the team needs a reliable player to put the ball in the net.

It seemed to be another story of bad finishing in the first half with all the missed chances. If The Crown did not pick up the win with a man advantage, spirits wouldn’t be high.

Luckily, Westwood’s amazing strike woke up the team, and Agyemang put the game to rest with his great finish from a Diani through ball. 

Agyemang provided good hold-up play, was solid in the air, and provided a true striker's finish for his goal, smashing the ball into the top of the net from close range.

This performance should increase Agyemang’s confidence as he subs in for Copetti while he recovers from injury.

Ashley Westwood

Westwood has been exactly what a captain should be this year. Solid and composed, and coming up big when it matters. Even from a deeper lying position Westwood still finds a way to contribute to the attack as he has more key passes than all other Charlotte midfielders combined.

Westwood had a good game from the center mid position, alongside Diani.

He connected the defense and attack well, and when the team (and the fans) was at peak frustration, he scored a super important goal to take the lead.

The goal he scored could be one of the most important moments of the season. It's early, but if Charlotte did not score a goal and the match ended in a draw, that negative momentum could’ve started a poor run of form for the club. 

The team needed these three points and this momentum. They are keen to show that they aren’t the same team as last year and Westwood has played a pivotal role in the team's improvement.

Stock Down

Brecht Dejaegere 

Dejaegere was not playing awful today in general, but it’s impossible to ignore the chance he missed in the first half.

It happens to all soccer players, but the goal was gaping and he was undefended. It didn’t end up costing the team, but Dejaegere will have to pick up his performance next game to rebuild his confidence. 

Iuri Tavares 

After missing the penalty at the end of the first half, it looked like Tavares had been affected by that moment.

He was sporadic on the ball in the second half and seemed unsure of his actions when in possession. 

He’s young and has been very impressive so far this season, he will learn and move on from that moment, but it looked to have affected him against the Crew.

Smith mentioned he had been practicing very well when it came to penalties in the post-game presser, but it seems like it might be time for a more experienced player to get a chance after two youngsters have missed at home.

Tavares will need to shake this moment off next week and show his great talent, but his stock is down after that game.

Jaylin Lindsey

Lindsey’s role in the first team continues to trend downward. In 2022, Lindsey had started the first five matches (450 minutes played). Last season, Lindsey had played 156 minutes through the first five weeks. 

This year Lindsey has yet to make an appearance. With Uronen out this seemed like the first big chance he had to get minutes. Smith opted to play Pedro instead. At this point, Lindsey looks to be completely on the outside looking in as Nathan Byrne eats up minutes on the right flank. An ominous position to be in during a contract year.