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Mentality Shift: Ingredients of the Match

May 14, 2024 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
Charlotte FC News Release

Charlotte FC's string of home games takes a quick break as they hit the road for a midweek match in Chicago. The Crown clash with the Fire for the first time this season, aiming to push their winning streak to three games.

Here are the three ingredients of the match:

Reward Performances

Charlotte have only secured one point away from home this season, but it's not indicative of their overall performances. Their lost points have been attributed to specific moments or periods of poor play, particularly in converting offensive opportunities.

"We should have had more points on the road," remarked Head Coach Dean Smith at this Thursday's press conference. "Our performances have merited more points, but we've not taken chances on the road so far."

In five away matches, the team has only netted three goals, all of which came in the first half. This tally falls short of what's necessary for securing victories on the road. Charlotte must convert their chances to reward their performances.

Final 15 Minutes

Charlotte FC has notched two consecutive clean sheets, marking a milestone for this season. Of the three clean sheets they've tallied, each has been on their home turf. Yet, in away fixtures, the team's defense has shown a chink in the armor, especially evident in the final 15 minutes of each half.

It's been in the latter moments of halves where all seven goals conceded by Charlotte found their mark. However, if we extract those final 15 minutes from each half, the defense has been sound for the most part.

Reflecting on the victory over Nashville, Adilson Malanda pinpointed the essential element in preventing goals in the final minutes of halves: "focus." He emphasized the need to maintain concentration and guard against complacency until the final whistle blows.

Mentality Shift

In MLS circles, there's an ongoing discussion about the challenges of securing points on the road. Within the Eastern Conference, only two teams have notched more than two road victories, while four teams, including Charlotte, are yet to clinch a win away from home.

Nevertheless, Head Coach Dean Smith is growing weary of this narrative. He contends that performing on the road is not more difficult but rather requires a shift in mentality within the team.

"I believe some people before they even leave have accepted that it will be tougher... the only reason it's tougher is because that is in your head," expressed Smith.

He acknowledged that not having significant sections of away fans is a big difference and disadvantage in the U.S. compared to his experience in England. Still, he otherwise believes a mentality shift is needed.

Allowing negative thoughts and uncertainties to infiltrate your mind prior to an away match can significantly impact your confidence and, consequently, your performance. Adopting a mindset that regards away games as no different from any other match can empower the team to perform on the road with the same level of proficiency as they do at home.

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Major League Soccer Stories from May 14, 2024

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