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Charlotte FC Weekly Roundup

By Ryan Donahue

Photo Courtesy of Cisco's Art

After last week’s result against Toronto FC, in which Charlotte picked up three points in its 3-2 victory, fans left the Bank smiling after the likes of Liel Abada, Kerwin Vargas, and Patrick Agyemang each featured with a goal.

With another victory at home, Charlotte remains undefeated this season at the Bank and currently sits seventh in the Eastern Conference standings.

This Sunday, Charlotte has an opportunity to keep their home streak going, facing off against Minnesota United who at the time of writing this also sit seventh in the Western Conference. With the Loons performing fairly well on the road so far this season, the matchup presents another tough test for Dean Smith’s men. 

Ahead of Sunday’s matchup, our team took a deeper dive into the happenings around the side this past week.

Pre-Match press conference

Yesterday, Smith gave his thoughts regarding the new rules around substitutions, VAR, and off-field treatment for player injuries. He stated that he disagreed with the decisions made by MLS and is confused by the league's decision to deviate from other top leagues around the world. However, the club will have to cope with the decision.

Smith noted that Abada’s pace and balance with the ball have been valuable assets to the squad. When asked about the starting center forward between Agyemang and Enzo Copetti, Smith stated that he would have to make a decision but is pleased with how both forwards are performing.

When asked about facing Minnesota, Smith noted that the side was fortunate to face them during preseason and it would be important that the side is careful in transition and the side will need to be smart in their buildup to have a positive result. Smith also referenced the support received at home as a major part of the team’s positive results encouraging supporters to turn up on Sunday rain or shine for another important game.

Smith closed the press conference by acknowledging the sides' more collective calmness allowing them to find more consistency in their decision-making. Smith stated that he is seeing more emotional control as well as increased leadership among individuals within the dressing room which can be seen as continued positive growth for the club as a whole.

Player availability

While it has not been confirmed it is possible Adilson Malanda will be available for first-team selection after having trained with the squad this week. 

Dean Smith

Charlotte has had its best start to the season since its inauguration under the new appointment of Dean Smith who is quickly winning over the Charlotte fan base on and off the field. On the field, Charlotte’s expected goals average per game has increased from 1.0 to 1.5 and is trending upwards. With the lack of goals in previous seasons being an evident pain point for most Charlotte fans, Smith has quickly been able to get the side to create chances and now appears that the side is becoming more proficient at converting those chances.

In Jorge Gonzales’ recent interview with Smith, he noted that historically it was evident that teams in MLS liked to play through their opposition. Smith stated that one of the first things he implemented to make the team more competitive was to set up more compact and force the opposition to go wide, reducing chances to mostly crosses into the box.

Off the pitch, it's evident that Smith’s principles and values are catching on around the club. When Smith joined Charlotte, one of the changes he made was to establish a system known as “Learning Zones” for the players to review, study, and analyze past performances.

While Smith wants his side to play to his principles, he stated that the game belongs to the players and ultimately they are the ones who make the decisions on the field. Although Smith can advise the players and present scenarios of what might occur he does not believe in a system that limits players' decision-making.

Charlotte’s offense

In Sam Vanolinda’s recent article, we discussed how the Charlotte front three is beginning to find its form. The addition of Abada has added a fresh dynamic to the front three and looks to have taken some of the pressure off Vargas’ shoulders. Abada also solved a prominent issue in Charlotte’s attack last season as often the right winger was rotated among several players. Charlotte now has clear first-team wingers on both sides. 

At the top of the front three, Charlotte has deployed Copetti and Agyemang throughout the season. While the goals have fallen more for Agyemang, Copetti is also showing his value this season serving as the dynamic center forward whose movement off the ball allows others to find more opportunities.

Final thoughts

Spirits are high around Charlotte right now after an exciting win at home last weekend however the matchup against Minnesota on Sunday will be another tough matchup but if Charlotte can continue to find the same tune and create chances another three points would be a huge takeaway before heading back on the road next week.