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The Full Time Clip: Charlotte FC Secure Emphatic Victory Over the Portland Timbers

May 4, 2024 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
Charlotte FC News Release

Saturday's match started with Charlotte FC down two key attackers: Kerwin Vargas (through yellow card accumulation suspension) and Liel Abada (through injury). In fairness, the Portland Timbers were also missing two key players in Evander, their leading goal scorer, and Diego Chara, the all-time MLS appearance leader for a single club.

Amidst the misty weather and lingering smoke from the pre-match pyrotechnics, CLTFC found the first big chance of the night 10 minutes in. Patrick Agyemang took a hopeful clearance by Andrew Privett and turned it into a lung-busting run down the far sideline. He broke containment inside the box at the byline and crossed for Ashley Westwood. The team captain set it for Nikola Petkovic, but his first-time shot curled agonizingly wide of the post.

The Crown carved out another huge chance in the 18th minute, which Petkovic will want back. Iuri Tavares pulled out a neat bit of skill at the midfield line and slotted in the young Serbian flying up the center of the pitch. He was running free on goal but slipped a bit as he opened up his hips for the finish and sent it sailing over the bar.

Portland found their first good chance in the 25th minute. Eryk Williamson rose highest in the box to meet a cross, forcing Kristijan Kahlina to scramble and dive to his right, but the header skipped just wide.

Given Portland's history of high-scoring matches this season, the match was predictably dynamic throughout the first half, but CLTFC had the majority of control.

Agyemang continued to flash dangerously and forced Timbers goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau into a quality save in the 30th minute. After a turnover in midfield, Agyemang sliced through both Portland centerbacks. He got his shot away under pressure, and Crepeau dove quickly to push the low shot wide of his far post.

He had another great chance from Petkovic's cross three minutes later, but the sliding defender and Crepeau blocked his shot on the doorstep of the front post to deflect just wide. At this point, momentum was growing, and Charlotte FC was knocking on the door for the opening goal.

Unfortunately, that momentum stalled with seven minutes left in the half as assistant referee Jason White suffered an apparent injury. He spent some time getting treated by CLTFC's athletic training staff before being replaced by fourth official Filip Dujic. At the same time, Portland defender Miguel Araujo had to exit the game and was replaced by Dario Zuparic.

Charlotte FC thought they earned a penalty in stoppage time through Iuri Tavares after a trip in the box by Juan Mosquera. However, referee Malik Badawi reversed his decision after going to the VAR monitor and, after announcing the decision via the in-stadium PA per the new rules, issued Tavares a yellow card for simulation instead.

Kahlina had a nervy moment soon after when he left a pass to Adilson Malanda short inside the box. Portland pounced on it, but Kahlina and Malanda scrambled well to block Jonathan Rodriguez's effort.

CLTFC poured the pressure on for the rest of stoppage time (which ran all the way until the 53rd minute) but could not find the opening goal before halftime.

Second Half

Lineup: Kahlina, Byrne, Malanda, Privett, Uronen, Westwood, Diani, Petkovic (71'), Dejaegere, Tavares (85'), Agyemang (71')

Substitutions: Bronico (71'), Copetti (71'), Smalls (85'), Urso (86')

Both teams created quick chances to start the second half. First, Mosquera bombed forward from his right back spot but blazed his shot over the bar. Then, just a minute later, Agyemang shrugged off Zuparic and sent him to the ground to free himself up in the box, but his shot was blocked.

Then, in the 54th minute, Nikola Petkovic earned his reward for all the hard work and found some redemption for his early missed chances. On top of the box, the Serbian received the ball with his back to goal from Nathan Byrne, turned with a skillful nutmeg on Zach McGraw, and fired home his finish at the near post for the opening goal.

CLTFC kept up the pressure as they searched for a second. At the hour mark, Brecht Dejaegere forced a turnover high up the field and released Agyemang up the middle. Dejaegere kept his run down the right side and was in acres of space, but Tavares made a poor decision by going for the shot instead of recycling it to his Belgian teammate.

Minutes later, Cristhian Paredes tried to generate some offense for the Timbers with a long-range strike from more than 35 yards out. He struck it well, and Kahlina was forced into a good top-hand save as the ball dipped in the air.

In the 68th minute, CLTFC nearly doubled the advantage. Ashley Westwood fired in a wide free-kick low and hard, and Agyemang nearly flicked it in right at the goal line. Crepeau poked it clear out to Petkovic, who wound up and struck it cleanly. The home fans thought he had scored, but his strike actually ripped into the outside of the side netting.

Agyemang was a problem for the Portland defenders all night long. He created another opportunity all on his own by driving right down the middle of the field but wasn't able to shift the ball into an open window to get his shot away.

Head Coach Dean Smith waited to make his first change, letting his starting eleven's momentum continue uninterrupted until the 70th minute when he replaced goal scorer Petkovic with Brandt Bronico to refresh the midfield. Agyemang subbed out for Enzo Copetti in the 77th minute.

Portland earned an extremely dangerous free-kick opportunity in the 82nd minute after Andrew Privett fouled just outside the box. It took over two minutes for it to be taken as the teams jockeyed for position around the wall, but Rodriguez sprayed it well over in the end.

Smith's final two changes came with five minutes to go, as Tyger Smalls and Junior Urso replaced Tavares and Dejaegere, respectively. The changes saw Bronico push out to the right wing with Smalls on the left side to see out the match.

After a tense few minutes on the pitch and in the stands, things quickly turned as Enzo Copetti emphatically ended his scoring drought and sealed the victory for The Crown. A poor throw-in towards the backline from the Timbers opened a chance for Copetti to pounce, and he did just that. Winning the ball and powering towards the goal, Copetti slotted home the 1v1 opportunity for his first of the season.

CLTFC would finish strong, looking organized in the back, communicating, and, most importantly, fighting to finish with a clean sheet. With another home win under their belts, The Crown is set up nicely to build momentum with three more home matches on the horizon this month.

Charlotte FC are back at home next weekend to face Nashville SC. An Eastern Conference opponent they will be looking to seek revenge on after defeat earlier in the season

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