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Dean Smith: "I Think We've Become a Calmer Team"

April 20, 2024 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
Charlotte FC News Release

Charlotte FC deviate from their usual Saturday night fixture against an Eastern Conference opponent this weekend, instead hosting a Western Conference team, Minnesota United, on a Sunday night.

Head Coach Dean Smith has already had the chance to scout their upcoming opponents, as they were one of the sides the team faced during their preseason preparations.

"We have to be very careful, particularly in transition, because they're very good on the counterattack, so our rest defense has to be very good. They press very quickly and effectively. They've created a number of opportunities through that.

"As far as our buildup, we have to get that right as well. There are many aspects of the game that we have to execute properly against them."

Charlotte overcame significant adversity in their last match, surrendering the lead twice but still managing to secure the game-winner in the 85th minute. Smith attributes this to the team's shift in mentality.

"I think we've become a calmer team, and with that comes consistency... there's better emotional control."

In a league with as much parity as MLS, a change in mentality could alter the entire course of the season. The finer details can be just as crucial as the broader ones.

"I've maintained from the outset that I don't believe there's much disparity in the league between the teams, as you mentioned, there's parity there. I think if we work diligently with the players and coach them effectively, hopefully, we can turn those small 1% gains into significant gains for us...

"At the moment, I'm pleased with the strong team ethic and unity we have. I believe there are various ways to win games in this league."

One specific area Smith is aiming to improve is the final third in attack.

"I have specific actions that I look for from the players in the final third. We've been a bit too inconsistent with that, and it's something we've been striving to improve."

Charlotte enters this match unbeaten in 13 consecutive home games. When asked about the key to this impressive streak, Smith credited his players but ultimately pointed to the unwavering support of the fans.

"I think the key has been the players' attitude but also having the support of our fans, who are like a 12th man in our stadium. I've heard there's supposed to be some rain on Sunday, but I hope that doesn't deter any of our supporters.

"We were born with waterproof skin, you can buy an umbrella, get a poncho, but make sure to be there and support the boys because they've certainly helped us maintain this unbeaten run at Bank of America."

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