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  • Finishing or creating: What is Charlotte FC's biggest attacking concern?

    By Brian Maurer Photos courtesy of Cisco's Art/TopBin90 The debate over what is ailing Charlotte FC started to heat up several weeks ago when Jorge Gonzales of TopBin90 and Lee Hannibal of CLTFCFanTV discussed their differing points of view on the issue. Gonzales considered finishing, especially Enzo Copetti’s lack of goals, a primary concern. On the other hand, Hannibal felt that more opportunities were necessary to provide the quantity of shots needed to get more consistent goal-scoring numbers. Through seven games, we are starting to get clearer data on where Charlotte’s attack stands and the cause of their woes, especially after their most recent 1-0 loss against the New England Revolution. Here is a breakdown of The Crown’s limited amount of finishing and creating to see where the greatest concern truly lies. Creating Charlotte currently ranks 25th in MLS in total shots (67). They are also T-25th in assists (3) and 26th in key passes (47). Charlotte is moving the ball forward into the attacking third (they rank 11th in passes completed into the final third; 34.1 per 90), but they are not getting the ball into the box (they rank 24th in passes completed into the penalty area; 6.43 per 90). Most of their attack has been one-dimensional, with an overdependence on crossing in from the wings. The Crown ranks fifth in completed crosses into the penalty area per 90 (2.43). They rank far lower in other types of passes into the penalty area showing that they have been limited to crossing into the box during attacking sequences. The lack of diversity in the attack has likely played a key role in the lack of quantity in overall shooting opportunities. With more volume, the likelihood of more goals would go up, even if key attackers continue to struggle to finish their chances. More shots mean that someone is likely to hit the target and finish occasionally. Finishing While Charlotte is lacking creativity, it is also clear the team needs to take the opportunities available. The Crown currently has a total of 10 xG through seven games, but they have only scored six goals. This means they have at least four goals left on the table, according to FBRef xG data. Based on this G-xG metric, Charlotte is the third-worst-finishing team in MLS, ahead of only DC United and Orlando City. Charlotte is currently averaging a goal for every five shots on target. They are only averaging 3.57 shots on target per 90 minutes, which makes their finishing rate a serious concern as this sets them below a goal a game if these sorts of rates continue. Most of the stronger attacking teams in MLS are getting more shots total, and more shots on target. It isn’t rocket science, if Charlotte hits the frame more often, they will more likely get the goals they need to secure more of the points they are missing; especially the ones on the road. Conclusion While it is easy from the most recent performance against New England to point out the lack of finishing, which continues to be a problem, the other stark statistic to point out is the lack of total shots in that game. Charlotte managed a meager six shots in that game and they had only one key pass from a starting attacking player. The lack of creativity is also blatantly clear to see. The good teams in MLS get far more shots per game. Charlotte currently averages less than 10. While this may seem like a lukewarm answer to the question, it seems like both creativity and finishing need a major enhancement for Charlotte’s attack to gain any meaningful traction. One without the other will likely not suffice. If Charlotte’s finishing alone improved but they maintained the same low shot count they likely wouldn’t maintain enough volume to improve their goal tally enough to make a substantial difference in their overall ranking over the long run. Short-term the finishing would improve, but improving finishing alone likely wouldn’t account for enough of a change throughout the season. If creativity is the only thing Charlotte improved, they would have more chances and while they would likely put away more goals even with poorer finishing this also would not likely lead to enough better outcomes because they would still be lacking a substantial increase in goals to push themselves up the rankings. Based on what other successful MLS attacks are producing, Charlotte must create at least four or five more chances per game (increasing their quantity to about 13-14 shots per game). With those additional shots, The Crown will also need to hit the target at least two or more additional times (increasing their count to five or six per game). If they can do these two things they are likely going to get the volume of chances and shots on target needed to put more than a goal per game away. If they do that with their far more compact defensive line they should see consistent improvement in their results.

  • Charlotte FC Stock Up, Stock Down: Lindsey takes advantage of his first start, Agyemang misses a big chance

    By Sam Vanolinda Photo courtesy of CJ Hellner/TopBin90 Charlotte FC traveled North to face the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium amongst swirling wind and miserable rain Saturday night; their performance was as depressing as the weather, a 0-1 loss against a struggling team. The problem is easy to identify for Charlotte. Seven games, six different goal scorers, only six goals. It's not for the lack of chance creation. It's caused by awful finishing and composure amongst the forwards on the team. Abada had his first start in this game, and despite an underwhelming performance, we will hold off for a couple of weeks before any judgment as he adjusts to the team. Here is the stock up/stock down for the weekend’s game. Stock up Jaylin Lindsey Lindsey returned to the squad after Byrne was inactive for the game. The fan-favorite took advantage of his opportunity on Saturday, with a solid performance, proving why he still deserves to be within the team's rotation. Lindsey was 85% on his passes (56/66), had two successful dribbles, 13 passes into the final third, and on the defensive end had two clearances, five recoveries, and won eight duels. He came into that right-back position and seemed to be one of the only players showing energy in an otherwise lethargic game. Bank of America Stadium There were no other standout players in the match, but Bank of America Stadium’s stock continues to rise as a place that injects energy and passion into the players. Home and away is night and day for this team, and it shows why the Bank is such an advantage to the Crown. It gives the players confidence to grind out results that they cannot produce on the road. Stock down Patrick Agyemang Agyemang found himself starting after Copetti had been recovering from a knock. You would think the goal he scored against Colombus would have given him the boost to snatch that starting striker role and go on to score more, but unfortunately, that isn’t the case so far. Although it was a tight angle, the 23-year-old missed an open goal that would've given the team the lead in the first half, his second shot was also in the first half from close range and it was slightly too high. Two big chances missed is not ideal for the lone striker. Charlotte FC legitimately could be in a top-three spot in the East if the strikers had the confidence to calmly put the ball into the net from close range, or in 1-on-1 situations. That being said, it shows why the best strikers around world football are paid the most out of any position, it’s easier said than done to put the ball into the net, especially when confidence is low. Kerwin Vargas Vargas just cannot find the final pass or the final shot that can shoot him toward stardom in this league. He has the skills to put himself in good positions but cannot make the right decision in the end to create goals. He also tends to go ghost in large chunks of the game, especially on the road when the team faces adversity. He only had one accurate cross (1/6), and he only attempted one dribble despite it being a successful one. He needs to get himself involved more and demand the ball, especially when trying to fight from a losing position to acquire point(s). Brecht Dejaegere Dejaegere playing in that attacking midfielder role, with Westwood and Diani as the double pivots just isn’t working how Dean Smith imagined it might. Dejaegere sometimes works well on the wing, but Carles Gil, the person who pulled the strings and found that line-splitting pass that created the New England goal, is an exact example of what Charlotte needs in the progressive midfielder role. Dejaegere only had three passes into the final third as an attacking midfielder. Someone who is in the middle of the team is supposed to be the heartbeat that creates attacking chances, the Belgian is just not cutting it as of now. Players who are successful in that position do not come very often, but hopefully, Charlotte will find that answer in the attacking midfielder role soon. Final thoughts Charlotte FC hosts Toronto FC at home next weekend, a team that struggled mightily last year but seems to have had a bit of a resurgence in 2024 Toronto will be without their key attacker Lorenzo Insigne, who was the reason Charlotte dropped a point in Canada earlier this season, so this should be a great opportunity for The Crown to get some revenge in front of their home crowd. This upcoming home match-up should give Charlotte an opportunity to wipe this most recent loss from their memory and get their season back on track promptly.

  • Charlotte FC Weekly Round-Up

    By Ryan Donahue Photo Courtesy of Cisco Art Charlotte FC face off this upcoming weekend in Gillette Stadium against the New England Revolution. The Revolution’s coach Caleb Porter promised supporters that their side will get a win, and Dean Smith reminded us in a press conference yesterday the dangers of making promises that cannot be kept. While it remains to be seen which manager will get the last laugh, the back and forth between the two adds a tasty layer to what has historically been a competitive battle between the two Eastern Conference sides. Ahead of the upcoming fixture, here is a round-up of the key events and Charlotte FC news from the past week: Abada’s Welcome Party Charlotte’s newest designated player Liel Abada made his debut last weekend at Bank of America and this week formally made his welcome this week during his introductory press conference and thanked Charlotte fans for the warm welcome and early support. Charlotte fans gathered at Atrium Health Performance Park to welcome the former Celtic winger’s arrival to the Queen City. Abada expressed his excitement to play for Smith in the Charlotte front three with the team leveraging it’s wide wing attacking play which will fit nicely with Abada’s profile. Additionally, Abada discussed his experience playing in big competitions and winning trophies with Celtic and aims to bring a winning mentality to the Charlotte side. While Abada expressed his excitement to play for the club, he also emphasized his appreciation for the city and the people of Charlotte which played a part in ultimate decision to join the club. Smith also attended Abada’s reception where he spoke with fans and signed autographs. Players to watch this weekend With Kerwin Vargas and Enzo Copetti struggling to get going this season, the game against New England this weekend could be a perfect opportunity for them to kickstart their season. While the penalty miss by Vargas seems to have dented his confidence and Copetti has still yet to find the prolific form that brought him to Charlotte, both players will want to put in a quality performance to win back the trust of the fans. With the likes of Tavares, Agyemang, and Abada being featured more often Dean Smith will have to make tough decisions around his front three and a long term goal drought could force Smith to evaluate his options. Charlotte’s local hometown mayor Brandt Bronico returned from injury this past weekend and is available for selection. While Bronico will likely come on as a sub as he continues to find fitness, the energy and work rate he offers in the second half could be critical to Charlotte ensuring a high quality midfield performance for ninety minutes as Smith will want to ensure starters like Westwood’s minutes are monitored. Smith mentioned in his press conference today that Scott Arfield has returned to the first team and is available for selection this weekend while Ben Bender is continuing to progress and will look to be reintegrated in the upcoming weeks. Predicted Lineup While it is uncertain who Smith will select in the starting 11, fans can expect a fairly consistent squad to the lineup last week with the following players expected to start (Kahlina (GK), Uronen (LB), Privett (LCB), Malinda (RCB), Byrne (RB), Westwood (DM), Diani (CM), Dejaegere (AM), Vargas (RW), Tavares (LW), Copetti (ST). New England’s Difficult Start The season has not gotten off to a positive start for Porter’s men with the side still searching for its first win in league play. This past week, the Revolution lost 0-4 to Club América in the CONCACAF Champions League. While New England will be desperate to get their first win at home in front of their supporters, the match presents a great opportunity for Charlotte to improve its away form this season.

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