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Is May the most important month in Charlotte FC's season?

By Brian Maurer

Liel Abada (Photo courtesy of CJ Hellner/TopBin90)

Charlotte FC kicks off May with a lightsaber giveaway and an exciting match-up at The Bank against the Portland Timbers that looks to be an exciting high-scoring affair. The Crown has played less than a third of their schedule but this upcoming month seems like a pivotal stretch. Could the next six games define the success of Charlotte’s third season?

Four home matchups

Charlotte plays at home four times in May. It’s the most home games The Crown plays in a month all season. This means they should be looking to take advantage of this time to earn more than their average points and climb the table to build a buffer from the bubble zone for the later stretches when the going gets tougher.

Portland, Nashville SC, and LA Galaxy are all winnable home games. The Galaxy is a dangerous attacking team but they also give up goals. Portland can also score, but they concede an average of two goals a game. The Galaxy and The Timbers will also both be traveling from the West Coast which should provide Charlotte with an additional homefield advantage. Nashville is off to a horrible start and is winless on the road.

The most tricky of the four match-ups is Philadelphia who is unbeaten this season. Earning a win against The Union is a tricky proposition, but they found a way back in 2022 when they were far more ominous.

Four key Eastern Conference matchups

The Crown will be facing four important Eastern Conference rivals throughout May. Nashville at home and the Chicago Fire on the road are crucial points as they both sit below Charlotte in the EC.

Philadelphia at home and New York Red Bulls on the road are more tricky propositions, but stealing a point against New York and holding off The Union would be a major momentum boost for the club.

This is a get-right stretch of games for Charlotte’s struggling attack

Four of Charlotte’s six games in May are against some of the worst defenses in MLS (based on xGA). Nashville, the Timbers, and the Galaxy rank 24th, T-25th, and T-28th in xGA. All three of these poor defenses travel to Charlotte this upcoming month.

The Fire ranks T-25th in xGA so Charlotte’s attack should also be licking their chops when traveling to Chicago on May 15.

There won’t be many stretches better than this for Charlotte to correct some of their creating and finishing woes. The time is now or never for players like Enzo Copetti and Brecht Dejaegere. This could also be the time for young players like Kerwin Vargas, Patrick Agyemang, and Liel Abada to make their mark this season.

This is the month for goals to flow in Charlotte. If they don’t it will become far tougher for Dean Smith to convince the fans that his plan with the current roster can get the job done.

The schedule becomes stiffer before the Leagues Cup

A final point for why May is crucial for Charlotte is their schedule in June and July becomes far more difficult.

Charlotte’s six games leading to the Leagues Cup break include five on the road (Philadelphia, Houston, Austin, Columbus, and Cincinnati). Their one home game is against the Supporters’ Shield leaders Inter Miami. 

Not only is this stretch difficult because of the amount of road games, but all six of these teams are currently in the top 15 in MLS. All four of the Eastern Conference opponents were considered by many to be contenders for the Supporters’ Shield during preseason.

In the past, The Crown has often wilted during more favorable stretches of the season. Forcing them to rely on earning more difficult points in higher-pressure situations late in the year. For Smith to prove that he is indeed changing and improving the culture in Charlotte, getting positive results in May is crucial to that message to fans.