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Does Charlotte FC have an MLS All-Star?

By Brian Maurer

Adilson Malanda (Photo courtesy of CJ Hellner/TopBin90)

The final result against the New York Red Bulls was poor and likely left a bad taste in most fans' mouths, but one thing did stand out about Charlotte FC on the midweek MLS Countdown broadcast last night.

The Crown appears to have finally broken through into the conversation of MLS All-Star voting. In Charlotte’s first two seasons, there appeared little to no chance they would have representation in the All-Star Game. In 2024, the tides are turning.

MLS Season Pass analysts Andrew Wiebe and Sacha Kljestan both mentioned Charlotte players as one of four potential All-Star picks they were considering. Kljestan had Kristijan Kahlina as his goalkeeper. Wiebe had Adilson Malanda as a defender to watch out for.

On X, Wiebe had an All-Star starting XI that included Nathan Byrne, and Kljestan stayed consistent with his MLS Countdown selection and had Kahlina voted in.

Potential Charlotte FC MLS All-Stars

MLS All-Stars are not voted in by any consistent metric. Players who are having a Best XI-type season get snubbed all the time. This is because, generally, players are voted in because of their popularity or the popularity of their team. Goal contributions and clean sheets are going to be the main stats that are taken into account. This often leaves positions like defensive midfielder snubbed because they get overlooked as they don't create the goals and are not on the backline (who generally are given credit for the clean sheets).

All this considered, Charlotte does seem to have some potential All-Stars because of their recent CS run, which lasted 523 minutes. That streak appears to have increased the popularity of some of Charlotte's defenders and they have the clean sheet stats to back up their success. The broadcasters during the Crown's match last night, Callum Williams and Calen Carr, both mentioned Charlotte as one of if not the best defenses in MLS.

Dean Smith's ability to get his team to play compact off the ball is starting to garner league-wide notice and a few players could get rewarded with an All-Star selection because of it. Here are the most likely candidates:

Kristijan Kahlina

Kahlina leads MLS in clean sheets and he's fifth in post-shot xG (PSxG) minus goals against. These two stats will make him the most likely candidate to represent Charlotte FC in Columbus in July. He has been standing on his head with many clutch saves the past month, and if he makes a few more highlight moments that save Charlotte some points, he could just about lock himself in.

He will have to contend with other more popular names like Sean Johnson and Drake Callender, but he does look to have a good chance at being Charlotte FC's first-ever All-Star.

Adilson Malanda

Malanda might be the Crown's most popular name outside of Charlotte. Many pundits are starting to take notice of him because of the potential he has to garner a big transfer fee to a club abroad. Currently, Charlotte's stance has been that they are not going to accept any transfer fee but that won't prevent the hype from building. Malanda looks to be the biggest benefactor of Charlotte's defensive resurgence and because of that increase in popularity, he could find himself on the All-Star team in July.

Andrew Privett

Privett is quickly becoming a fan favorite in Charlotte and he too is starting to gain a bit of attention outside of the Queen City because of their clean sheet tally this season. He seems to be a distant shout behind Malanda, but you never know how Columbus Crew's Wilfried Nancy might make his 12 selections as the All-Star team coach.

Ashley Westwood

Westwood looks to be a top contender for Charlotte's Player of the Season and could be recognized as an All-Star. It's an outside shot as a defensive midfielder, but Nancy could give him some recognition similar to Privett.

Voting for the MLS All-Star Team

It was announced yesterday that fan voting for the MLS All-Star team is now open. Fans, media, and players will vote for 12 players. The All-Star team coach, Nancy, will also select 12 players. The final two All-Stars are selected by MLS Commissioner Don Garber.

The MLS All-Star Game will be played on July 24 in Columbus and the MLS All-Stars will take on the Liga MX All-Stars.