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MLS SuperDraft Picks Lead Charlotte FC to Win over Nashville

May 13, 2024 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
Charlotte FC News Release

Heading into MLS Rivalry Week, Charlotte FC versus Nashville wasn't advertised as one of the rivalries of the weekend. Yet, a glance at social media interactions between the fanbases painted a different picture.

There was an unmistakable tension building up to this match. Ever since Charlotte entered the league, their encounters with their nearby rivals always carried an added edge and physicality. Nashville held the slight advantage in the head-to-head record, having one more win than The Crown after notching a 2-1 victory earlier in the season.

Both Head Coach Dean Smith and his players felt they gave away that match too easily by conceding soft goals in an otherwise winnable game.

"That was a bit of our motivation," said center back Andrew Privett following the match. "They are one of our rivals and you know they got us at their place, so we wanted to bring them here and return the favor."

Charlotte FC's back line will be celebrating their back-to-back wins and consecutive clean sheets with deserved bottles of wine promised by their coach for every clean sheet they earn. Smith wasted no time in praising the work the entire back line put in, but he specifically highlighted the center back pairing of Adilson Malanda and Privett.

"I thought Privett was outstanding today, along with Malanda," praised Smith.

"I felt him and Adil [Malanda] owed them one. We didn't defend two crosses really well at their place, and that probably cost us a victory. I think they were right on it today and wanted to show how good they were."

The spotlight on Saturday night belonged to the MLS SuperDraft class of 2023. Alongside Privett (who was selected late at 69th overall in the 3rd round), striker Patrick Agyemang shone with a Man of the Match performance and a match-winning goal.

Agyemang, picked 12th overall a year-and-a-half ago, posed a constant threat to Nashville's defense right from the start. His dominance prompted Nashville Head Coach Gary Smith to make a halftime substitution with center back Walker Zimmerman replacing Brent Kallman, who had struggled to contain Agyemang.

However, this tactical adjustment proved futile as Agyemang continued his rampage, bettering the ex-U.S. international for the remainder of the match.

"Really pleased to see him [Agyemang] doing well because he's got bags of potential," said Smith. "There's a lot of stuff to work with, but he wants to get better, and that's the beauty of it."

Agyemang currently stands as the team's leading goal scorer with three goals and an assist so far in MLS. His journey has been remarkable, considering that just over a year ago, he was playing college soccer.

"I don't really put pressure on myself when I play," explained Agyemang. "As long as I play the way I know I can play, I will have my chances.

"And as long as I have my chances, I just have to take advantage. It's just me keeping levelheaded and focused on what I can control."

After losing their unbeaten run at home against Minnesota United, Charlotte responded by reclaiming their home form to start their six-match month. However, before they look to extend their home run to three wins they have a stop in Chicago for a midweek match against the Fire.

The Crown are still hunting for their first road win in 2024. Despite their impressive response to losing their home streak, their next priority is to end their four-game losing streak away from home.

"I'm fed up talking about it," said Smith regarding the difficulty of earning points on the road. "I think a lot of it is the mentality. People keep talking about how tough it is to travel on the road and get points all across the MLS...

"But I believe that's a mentality shift that we have to make, and that was the message in the dressing room today."

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