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Charlotte FC Stock Up, Stock Down: Westwood leads from the front, Kahlina stands on his head

By Sam Vanolinda

Ashley Westwood (Photo courtesy of Cisco's Art/TopBin90)

Charlotte FC had their first two-game week of the season last week, resulting in a 1-0 win versus Chicago, and a 0-0 draw against LA Galaxy at the bank.

Four straight clean sheets symbolize what Dean Smith has brought to the club this year. Defensive structure and organization at the back have propelled this team into the 6th spot in the Eastern Conference.

Here is a special two-game edition of stock up/stock down:

Stock up

Ashley Westwood

Captain Ashley Westwood had the winning goal in the mid-week game at Soldier Field, a beautiful free kick past the out-stretched hand of Chris Brady.

After some frustrating missed chances in the first 60 minutes of the game, the team leader stepped up and curled the ball top corner from a free kick right outside the box.

This is another trademark performance from the most consistent player for the Crown this season.

Westwood also contributed six passes into the final third, had three recoveries, and 52 total touches in Wednesday’s game.

From just 0.18 xG, the Englishman handed Charlotte three points.

The entire defense

You have to credit this entire back-four when your team hasn’t allowed a goal in four games.

Defense is about communication and organization – Adilson Malanda, Andrew Privett, João Pedro, and Nathan Byrne in the past two games have displayed those qualities at an elite level.

Malanda and Privett combined for 17 clearances against Chicago, and Pedro slotted in for an injured Jere Uronen and has provided a spark on both ends of the field.

The players may just be motivated by a free bottle of wine, but it is night and day how solid this back four is compared to last year. 

The gameplay might not be as pretty as Lattanzio-ball, but points are what matters in football.

Kristijan Kahlina

Kahlina was the man of the match for me in both games last week.

Against LA Galaxy, Kahlina saved the team from a disappointing result with some late-game saves.

He had 1.06 goals prevented on Saturday, with five saves, three of them diving, and was even 82% passing. On Wednesday, he had five saves as well, with 1.22 goals prevented, four diving saves, and 12 recoveries.

Kahlina has been a brick wall recently, I'm sure his confidence is at the highest it has ever been with the back four that he plays behind.

Stock down

Iuri Tavares


Tavares started the season amazingly well. He seemed to be a player who could continue to earn starts throughout the year after his early goal but has gradually faded further down the depth chart.

Tyger Smalls was given the start over him on Wednesday and was called in as a sub over 20 minutes before Tavares on Saturday.

The player still has quality, but he needs to show some spark in his next appearance to find his way back into a more consistent role.

Attacking woes

Dean Smith emphasized in the presser that the team has struggled in the finishing department recently.

Players have been in the position to score, but the final actions have been disappointing, especially against LA Galaxy.

The final pass or the final shot has just been low-quality for a lot of this season, luckily the amazing defense has backed the team up.

Smalls was one player who could’ve increased his stock more than anyone with a goal against LA, but a close-range effort in the 69th minute had .43 xG but did not go in.

I think the team needs to continue grinding points until the summer when they can bring more attacking quality into the team.

If Charlotte can pick up a DP number 10 or striker that can finish and create chances, the team really could make a playoff run.

The talks with Marco Reus seemed too good to be true, which they were because he had no interest, but a player with European experience like him could create a dangerous squad in the East.

Djibril Diani

Júnior Urso and Brandt Bronico have seemed to jeopardize Diani’s weekly inclusion in the starting 11.

Diani started his campaign in Charlotte with five straight 90-minute starts. Since then he's had four starts in six games with only one 90-minute showing. He was subbed out early in his other three starts during that stretch. Urso was chosen both times Diani wasn’t selected.

Diani has been exceptional at times this year, but now the pivot position has a good amount of competition.


It's been this way all year, the defense has been playing incredibly, but the lack of quality up front has stopped the team from soaring to the top of the East.


As the summer window begins, I am excited to see what types of players the team will bring in to fill those DP slots.

The Crown will stay at the bank to play a struggling Philadelphia Union team this Saturday.

1 Comment

May 21

Curious if Abada's return will give some life to the attacking and finishing department.