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Is Charlotte FC better without Swiderski and Copetti starting together?

By Brian Maurer

Photos courtesy of Cisco's Art

Many discussions have been had about Charlotte FC Head Coach Christian Lattanzio’s lineup decisions. One of the most discussed is his usage of his two Designated Players (DPs) Karol Świderski and Enzo Copetti. They both play the same position and rather than playing a formation that allows for them to share the field in similar roles, Lattanzio has opted to rotate Świderski into a midfield spot.

Every time both players are selected for the starting eleven, Świderski is rotated into a position outside of his typical striker role. While many might argue it is always better to make sure your best players are always on the field, the formation Lattanzio prefers to use might make that less optimal when his top players play the same position. In this article, I am going to look at the results of Charlotte FC when Lattanzio uses both Copetti and Świderski and compare those results to the matches when only one of them is used.

These findings should provide a better understanding of the offensive contributions Świderski and Copetti are making as a duo, and whether those contributions are leading towards positive results compared to when only one of the DPs is in the starting eleven.

Expected goals

Using the American Soccer Analysis expected goals model we can see that when Lattanzio started both Świderski and Copetti versus when he started only one of the two there was no major change in attacking volume from the team. One would expect that when playing your two highest-paid attacking players the attacking volume would increase significantly, but that has not been the case. What is even more troubling is that the expected goal differential of the team is worse when both of them start together.

This suggests that playing both Świderski and Copetti together in an attempt to increase attacking creativity and production is hurting the overall team. Attacking volume does not increase when they both start, but the opposition’s attacking volume does increase when they are starting.

DP Strikers Starting

xG For

xG Differential

Świderski AND Copetti



​Świderski OR Copetti



Points per game

Charlotte FC accumulates fewer points per game when Świderski and Copetti start together versus when only one of them starts.

When both strikers are in the starting eleven, The Crown is averaging .93 points per game. When only one of them is starting the team is averaging 1.36 points per game. If you calculate those averages out for the duration of an entire season those point totals would be 32 versus 46; 14th in the Eastern Conference versus playoff-bound.

DP Strikers Starting



Świderski AND Copetti



Świderski OR Copetti



The difference in records in this comparison is alarming. The Crown has only lost three times this season when one of the two DP strikers is starting (4-7-3, goal differential = 0). When both of them start the club’s record is an abysmal 3-5-7 (goal differential = -12).


These two preliminary findings don’t encompass the entirety of the impact Świderski and Copetti are having. That being said, when your two highest-paid players, who are also your two most talented attacking options, are not making a clear difference in attacking volume (xG) and game results (PPG) when they play together that is a concern.

What this evidence suggests is the presence of both of Charlotte’s DP strikers does not lead to an increased level of team production or points. These findings provide an interesting debate for Charlotte’s approach through their final games of the season. If they are indeed not providing the results or the goals and there appears to be a desire to leave (at least from Świderski), is there a reason to keep giving them both starts?

The most obvious change in direction would be to put a natural center midfielder into the midfield and swap out one of the two strikers. Another direction that would appear more risky on the surface could be to play one of The Crown's up-and-coming prospects.

If one or both of Świderski and Copetti end up leaving at the end of this season and Charlotte doesn’t qualify for the playoffs, there is a case that players like Patrick Agyemang deserve a shot at a starting role to finish the year.

The reasoning is simple. Świderski and Copetti are not making enough of an impact when they start together. In MLS, when successful DP signings play and start together, their influence on the game is obvious. Advanced analytics aren’t required.

Not only are they not making enough of an impact when they play together, but they may not even be with the club after the season, based on transfer window rumors and Świderski’s public statements.

Even if Świderski and Copetti turn it around in the last five matches and help Charlotte scrape by into a playoff spot, there seems to be a decent chance that at least one leaves. Providing the club with more questions than answers. If Agyemang is given a shot now, Charlotte might have one of their answers provided for them. And if he doesn’t perform, the club is likely in the same boat they were already in. Through 29 games, the veterans aren’t getting the job done. The opening is there to play the kids.