Charlotte FC

Charlotte FC Earn Valuable Road Point in Difficult Vancouver Away Trip

March 2, 2024 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
Charlotte FC News Release

After keeping a clean sheet in a 1-0 home opener victory last Saturday, Charlotte FC traveled cross-continent to keep the early season momentum going against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Even after a 5-plus hour flight, CLTFC started the game on the front foot, dominating possession throughout the first half. Jere Uronen was particularly dangerous, overlapping Iuri Tavares on the left with success. The Fin earned a great opportunity but could not beat Yohei Takaoka in the Vancouver goal with his weaker right foot.

In the 20th minute, it appeared Enzo Copetti had earned a penalty for The Crown. The Argentine received the ball in the box, getting the first touch before getting tangled up with Ranko Veselinovic from behind and hitting the turf.

Referee Scott Bowman pointed to the spot, and Copetti was poised to take the penalty. However, the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) sent Bowman to the monitor, and the penalty was waved away.

On the other end, Tristan Blackmon had the first clear chance for the Whitecaps, getting a great running start to arrive at the end of a Ryan Gauld free kick. His header, though, skipped just wide of the post.

Charlotte made Vancouver pay with the opening goal of the match soon after. Brecht Dejaegere crossed on the ground for Copetti, who dummied the ball brilliantly for Iuri Tavares arriving behind him. Tavares, who nearly had his first MLS goal in his first MLS start last weekend, powered home an easy finish into the roof of the net and got his just reward only a week later.

Having created the goal, Copetti nearly doubled the advantage before halftime. He picked Veselinovic's pocket and went sprinting in behind 1-on-1 with Takaoka. While his prep touches were perfect, he could not find the finish as the Japanese goalkeeper dove to the ground with a kick save.

It was now Vancouver's turn to make Charlotte pay for a missed chance right at the death of the first half. Ryan Raposo found himself alone on the back post after a recycled corner kick, and he caught Kristijan Kahlina leaning to cut out the cross, side-footing a simple finish for the equalizer.

Second Half

Lineup: Kahlina, Byrne, Malanda, Privett, Uronen, Westwood, Urso, Dejaegere (69'), Vargas, Tavares, Copetti

Substitutions: Agyemang (69'), Arfield (83'), Berchimas (83')

Vancouver took their momentum from the first half to find a better foothold in the opening portion of the second half. The Whitecaps were pressing much higher up the field and keeping possession in Charlotte's half much more effectively.

Their best potential chance came from using a goal kick as a set piece opportunity, sitting Damir Kreilach deep behind the center backs and leveraging the rule that there is no offsides on goal kicks. Kreilach chested it down in a great position, but the Whitecaps could not string together the final pass.

Charlotte FC weathered that initial storm, though, and by the 60th minute, they had a great spell of possession and began breaking the Vancouver lines again. Dejaegere was dangerous, finding the attacking pockets often and drawing two yellow card fouls.

Head Coach Dean Smith made his first substitution in the 69th minute, bringing on Patrick Agyemang in favor of Dejaegere to shift his side into a two-striker setup.

Kahlina came up with two big saves in the 72nd and 74th minutes. First, a header from a corner crept its way through a mass of bodies. The Croatian did well to track the ball through the crowd and push it away at the last moment. Then, a misplay gifted Fafa Picault a chance inside the box, but Kahlina closed the angle to keep it out of his net.

The match was really heating up at this point. Agyemang was among those with chances in the end-to-end action, unable to generate enough power on his header from a Nathan Byrne cross. Brian White also found a headed chance but directed his effort over the bar.

Tavares and Copetti exited in the 83rd minute in exchange for Nimfasha Berchimas and Scott Arfield.

Dean Smith could be heard from the sidelines as the game wound down, yelling for his players to squeeze up the field and press players on the sides of the pitch. CLTFC spent much of the final 10 minutes of the match pinned deep.

While the team defended for the final chunk, they prevented the Whitecaps from creating any major, clear-cut chances. In the end, they walked off the field with a very valuable, well-earned road point in a league notorious for its significant home field advantage.

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