Ahead of their home game against Chicago Fire FC, Charlotte FC interim head coach Christian Lattanzio has called on his players to “channel this energy” after the 3-0 win over D.C. United.
The win over D.C. ended a run of two straight MLS defeats, but also had more historical significance for the Crown.
Charlotte’s visit to D.C. for the opening game of the season was also their first ever MLS game, and they were soundly beaten 3-0 by their veteran opponents.
But Lattanzio saw the victory in the return fixture as an indicator of Charlotte’s development.
“I think the result shows the progress that this club has made,” Lattanzio told reporters.
“That was our first game in our history so there was a lot of energy, but now, it’s time to channel this energy.
“I’m very proud of the way how our boys played tonight.”
The Crown sit just inside the Eastern Conference playoff positions in seventh place, but are level on points with the teams in eighth and ninth place, while Saturday’s opponents Chicago are two points behind in 10th place and will go above Lattanzio’s side with an away win.
The pressure is therefore on Charlotte to get three points on the board against Chicago, who themselves are unbeaten in four matches, winning three of them.
18-year-old goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina has this week made a big-money move to Premier League club Chelsea, but has returned to the Fire on loan for the rest of the MLS season.
He will be keen to help his side reach the playoffs before he makes the move to London in January.
Chicago head coach Ezra Hendrickson showed his support for Slonina, telling reporters: “I’m happy for the kid and it shows that we have some good talent, some good young talent here in this organization.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Charlotte FC – Karol Swiderski
The Poland international scored his sixth goal of the season in Charlotte’s win over D.C. on Wednesday, all of which have come at the Bank of America Stadium. He will look to again take advantage of home comforts with another goal against Chicago.
Chicago Fire FC – Gabriel Slonina
After his transfer to European giants Chelsea, will the 18-year-old goalkeeper be able to refocus and help his side get a positive result in Charlotte?
KEY OPTA FACTS
– The Fire have won only two of their last 11 matches against expansion teams (D4 L5) dating back to May 2015 with both wins coming at home. Chicago are winless in 10 straight matches at MLS newcomers (D6 L4), last winning at an expansion team in Toronto in July 2007.
– Charlotte FC’s 3-0 win over D.C. United on Wednesday was their eighth win in their first 11 home MLS matches (L3). That’s tied for the most home wins through 11 games for an expansion team in MLS history, equaling the Fire (1998) and Atlanta United (2017).
– The Fire won their last away match, a 3-1 victory at Vancouver, after collecting just one point from their previous eight away from home. Chicago has not won consecutive away matches in nearly nine years, since victories at D.C. and Dallas in October 2013.
– All six of Karol Swiderski’s goals this season have been scored at home. Only Dejan Joveljic (9) has more goals this MLS season without scoring on the road.
– The Fire kept their 10th clean sheet of the season on Saturday against Atlanta, as only NYCFC (12) has kept more in 2022. Chicago have conceded just 28 goals through 23 games this season. The Fire have gone on to make the playoffs in each of the previous eight seasons they have allowed fewer than 30 goals at this stage.