Trust Your Depth
Charlotte FC left Atlanta with all three points after a dominant display last Saturday. However, they also left with a lengthy injury list, particularly to the group of wingers at Head Coach Christian Lattanzio’s disposal.
With Kerwin Vargas, Kamil Jozwiak, and McKinze Gaines all expected to miss out against Chicago, look to players with less minutes so far this year to be asked to step up. Young attacking players like Chris Hegardt and Brandon Cambridge, who CLTFC fans have seen shine in their Open Cup run, might have an opportunity for significant minutes on Wednesday.
In the grinding 34-game MLS schedule, plus Open Cup and Leagues Cup games, teams simply cannot roll out the same eleven each match. At some point in the season, they must trust their roster from top to bottom and get good contributions out of the whole squad to stay consistently competitive.
Deny Time and Space
Throughout the 2023 season, Lattanzio has evolved his side into one that presses high and hard during certain game states. Against Atlanta, we saw a CLTFC team that was completely committed to the press. In particular, the players were clearly tasked with denying time and space to the Five Stripes’ creative players like Thiago Almada, and they did so to great effect. This press generates chances by turning the ball over in dangerous areas and limits chances for opposing attackers to have time to pick dangerous passes.
This style of play will likely be very important against Chicago. Watch for the midfield trio to mark Xherdan Shaqiri as tightly as they did Almada last week. Shaqiri was the danger man the last time these two teams matched up in Bank of America Stadium, getting the primary assist on two of Chicago’s three goals.
Carry the Momentum
The Crown are on a good run of form after winning three straight in all competitions, including two victories in the league over teams in home playoff positions. Last year, the team struggled to put an extended undefeated run together, at times riding the rollercoaster of wins and losses. This was, in part, why the team was stuck on the edges of the playoff race down the stretch.
In MLS, putting together a solid stretch of points is difficult due to the parity created by roster rules and the high challenge of playing on the road. Once a team strings together consistent results over five or more matches, they inevitably rise quickly in the table.