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 Charlotte FC

Charlotte FC Continues Unbeaten Run in Preseason

February 12, 2024 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
Charlotte FC News Release


Charlotte FC extends their unbeaten streak in preseason with a hard-fought 1-0 victory against the San Jose Earthquakes. The match served as a rigorous test for The Crown, both physically and mentally, as the competition intensifies with each passing game leading up to the MLS regular season.

Captain Ashley Westwood secured the lone goal, capitalizing on a well-executed offensive team sequence. The suquence led to an initial shot by Enzo Copetti that was blocked, but Westwood seized the follow up with a slicing shot into the upper net

Head coach Dean Smith, who had emphasized the importance of control in their previous outing, witnessed a positive progression in that aspect against the Earthquakes.

"I thought we had a bit more control today than we ever had in previous games," analyzed Smith, "Certainly, without the ball and with the ball as well. I liked some of the patterns that we created. I liked how we work together without the ball, and we're patient enough to wait for the opportunities to press. That control was a lot better today."

Beyond Smith's desire for Charlotte to assert control in games, spectators were treated to the tactical versatility inherent in Smith's system as he arranged the team in a formation distinct from the one employed against the LA Galaxy. Despite a constant rotation of starters and substitutes throughout the preseason, Smith's distinctive style of play has remained consistent regardless of the personnel involved.

"What we want to do is have a style of play, that you can fit a number of different systems, as you've probably seen already. We've actually done that in in a few games, so we're going to be quite adaptable this season, but our style of play will stay the same."

A significant aspect of the rotating squads is the inclusion of a substantial number of young players in the camp. College picks, Crown Legacy players, and Homegrowns have all been given opportunities to prove themselves in the senior setup. Among them is Nimfasha Berchimas, a homegrown talent who gained widespread attention after his performance in the U-17 World Cup late last year.

When questioned about the potential of the 15-year-old, Smith candidly admitted to not knowing for certain, emphasizing that it is in camps like these where players like Berchimas work towards fufilling that potential.

"The only way to find out is to play him in these games. I've really liked what I've seen so far, in practice, in the training sessions that we've done. He's a real fast and twitchy player. He's got fast, twitchy muscles, which allow him to go and pressure defenders really quickly.

"He's good on the ball. He's got great acceleration to get away from people as well. He's got massive potential, but I've had a chat with him the other day and said to him potential is just a word, the idea now is for you to go and fulfill that potential."

One of the clearest indicators of the squad's buy-in was evident in the 87th minute when, despite a grueling match, five Charlotte FC players hustled back to defend a transition. Witnessing such dedication, especially during preseason, is precisely what any coach hopes for.

"I'm pleased to see it as it's something that I'm constantly asking for. The three things I asked for at the start of the game was attitude, application, and teamwork, and I thought we got all three of them. If you're seeing that in the 87th minute, then you know they're showing all three of them attributes, which are going to be massively important if the team is going to be successful."


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