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Match Preview: Charlotte FC vs. Minnesota United

April 19, 2024 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
Charlotte FC News Release

Charlotte FC is riding a 13-match MLS unbeaten streak at Bank of America Stadium stretching back to last season. With five of the next seven matches at home, it's a critical stretch of the season for the team to solidify their position in the playoff places early on.

Next up, CLTFC takes on Minnesota United in a cross-conference matchup.

Match: Charlotte FC vs Minnesota United

When: Sunday, April 21

Where: Bank of America Stadium

Kickoff: 6:00 p.m. ET

Watch: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV - How to Watch & Listen

Listen: WFNZ 92.7 FM (English) & WOLS 106.1 FM (Spanish)

For all other radio station affiliates in the Carolinas, click here.

Know Before You Go: For information on tickets, stadium entry, and more, click here.

Previous Matches:

Charlotte FC 3 - 2 Toronto FC (Major League Soccer | April 13)

Minnesota United 1 - 2 Houston Dynamo FC (Major League Soccer | April 13)

Eastern Conference Table: For the full live table, click here.

5. FC Cincinnati - 12 points, 8 GP

6. Atlanta United - 11 points, 7 GP

7. Charlotte FC - 11 points, 8 GP

8. CF Montreal - 10 points, 7 GP

9. Toronto FC - 10 points, 8 GP

---------- Playoff Line ----------

Finding Comfort in the Lead

Charlotte FC's fragility in the final minutes of matches in 2023 was no secret. The team surrendered leads and lost points both home and away on a consistent basis.

However, the 2024 version of Charlotte FC, under Head Coach Dean Smith's leadership, has flipped the script and found comfort when leading late in matches.

Defender Jere Uronen, speaking to Jorge Gonzales of TopBin90 in Wednesday's weekly player media availability, emphasized how different the team's mindset is this year.

"We feel comfortable defending the lead late in the games," he said. "Obviously, you're going to lose some leads, and you're going to keep some of them. But I feel like we are more comfortable.

"Last year, I don't think panic is the right word, but we kind of stopped playing our game and everyone was waiting for the equalizer to come. This year we're defending as a whole team.

"Even though we did concede the goal against Cincinnati, it still feels different. We all have more faith in us to keep the lead."

Dean Smith echoed the Finnish defender in Thursday's press conference, adding a bit more insight into the "why" behind that comfort defending leads.

"In terms of the character of the group, I think they're becoming a calmer team," he said. "And with that comes consistency.

"We're starting to learn about: what are good decisions? What aren't good decisions? When do we need to chase a game, when do we not need to chase a game?

"I can see a lot more emotional control within the group."

That growth as a team must be vindicating for Smith and his staff.

The early season narrative was that CLTFC could not protect leads late in games. Losing a 2-0 lead in a preseason friendly versus LAFC (after changing the entire team at halftime to spread minutes around) certainly didn't help that social media narrative.

Now, despite a few speed bumps, the team largely looks comfortable and calm in high pressure situations. That mentality will serve them well on Sunday as they look to take another three points at home.

The Opponent

Charlotte FC is matching up with Minnesota United for the first time ever. With 29 teams in the league, it's not possible for teams to play every team in the league every year, so cross-conference matchups can go multiple years in between matches.

From the outside looking in, Minnesota started 2024 in disarray. After parting ways with longtime Head Coach Adrian Heath at the end of 2023, the Loons were on their second interim head coach by the time preseason rolled around.

Cameron Knowles, the organization's MLS NEXT Pro coach who only found out he would be leading the team 10 days before preseason camp opened, successfully and impressively navigated those uncertain times with a 2-0-1 record to start the season.

He then handed the reins to Eric Ramsay, who was hired from Manchester United's staff. Ramsay oversaw a debut victory, but the Loons have since cooled off with just one point from their last three matches.

On the player side, Jere Uronen will see some familiar faces out on the field, as the Minnesota attack is led by his Finland national team teammates - and good friends - Robin Lod and Teemu Pukki. Three points AND bragging rights will be on the line for Uronen on Sunday.

The Season So Far

Charlotte FC have gotten off to a strong and relatively consistent start under new Head Coach Dean Smith. Currently, the team sits in seventh place in the 14-team Eastern Conference.

CLTFC won their first match of the season over NYCFC with a gritty 1-0 win at home. They then faced three consecutive games on the road, securing a 1-1 draw in Vancouver before tight losses to Toronto (1-0) and Nashville (2-1).

Upon finally returning to Bank of America Stadium, the team impressively downed the defending MLS Cup Champions, the Columbus Crew, by a 2-0 score. Then, they secured another impressive result, drawing the defending Supporter's Shield Champions, FC Cincinnati, in a 1-1 match.

After a disappointing road loss in New England, CLTFC won a thrilling back-and-forth match against Toronto at home courtesy of a late Patrick Agyemang match-winner.


A little rain isn't stopping this party! THE FORTRESS. SUNDAY, APRIL 21 @ 6:00 P.M.

*Available at Blue Cross NC East Gate Taprooms. $5.00 - 12 oz. Draft Michelob Ultra. While supplies last.

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