top of page
  • Socks at Half-Mast

Still a Work in Progress

The game was not a good one.


I think this statement is true for both clubs. New England's first goal is a well worked one, but their second is a mixture of bad play (by Corujo) and luck. That's not to say that they didn't have some other good chances (Rennicks' 66th minute chance comes to mind), but neither team looked overly threatening.


I have 3 major thoughts from the game.


#1: Chance Creation

I don't think you can argue Charlotte deserved anything from this game. They could have gotten a point if luck went their way, but overall they were bad. I don't want to be too negative, but this was an inept showing from an offensive perspective. The total xG for this game was 0.3 (vs. 1.2 for NE). For the 8th straight game, Charlotte have failed to have a higher xG than their opponent. Further, our best shot (according to xG value) was Świderski's free kick in the 29th minute. This shot's xG value was only 0.07.


I've been saying for weeks that this team's lack of shot creation is a problem and it continues to be one, especially on the road. What I think is more demoralizing is we had almost 61% possession, but managed only 8 shots (6 on target). With only 39% possession, New England still got off 13 shots and matched Charlotte with 6 on target.


The scoreline looks better due to Ortiz's late goal and it's good to see him score, if only for his confidence. This team needs some creative attacking play and, while Ortiz hasn't gotten off to the best start, there's still so much of the season left. I continue to believe he's going to be an important player for this club, especially if we're to make the playoffs.


Back to the game: take a look at these two images:

Heatmap, NE vs. CLTFC, 4/16
Heatmap, NE vs. CLTFC, 4/16. Via WhoScored
Attack Sides, NE vs. CLTFC, 4/16.
Attack Sides, NE vs. CLTFC, 4/16. Via WhoScored

First, that heatmap is depressing. We just got nowhere near any dangerous areas. The Rev's aren't overly impressive either, but at least they have some danger down their left side and have some time in the actual box. Charlotte is basically having the ball anywhere but near the goal.


Second, that attack sides graphic is ridiculous. I have faith in MAR, but I don't think he got it right this game. We came out in a 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield. In theory, I'm fine with that. As I said in my preview post, I'm not convinced Ríos needs to be starting, but if he does, that's fine and a 4-4-2 definitely makes sense in order to accommodate him and Świderski. What I don't understand is how we have a diamond formation in the midfield but all of our play is on the wings (specifically through our fullbacks).


I'm going to touch on the backline a bit more in my second point, but I was at the game and thought Fuchs looked really good down the left. Lindsey also found himself in some dangerous positions. With that said, Fuchs is 36 years old and Lindsey is not great going forward, in my opinion. In relying on Fuchs to run all game and Lindsey to be a primary creator from out wide, I think MAR messed up.


We're all waiting on Jóźwiak to be available--and he should help alleviate some of our issues with attack--but we already have players in Reyna, Gaines, and Ortiz who can provide width, pace, and attacking nous. We need to start using them. Someone from the midfield will have to be sacrificed in order to do this, but that's okay! You want competition for places in a good squad.


#2: Defense

I'm beginning to take issue with fan opinion of some players, mostly because I think these are some opinions based on feelings rather than facts.


Let's first start here: take a look at this table below (all data except rating system scores from FBref). Each player is one of our 4 who started in the backline (Fuchs, Makoun, Corujo, and Lindsey). Who do you think each player is?

Pass %

Tackles

Dribbled Past

Pressures (Def 3rd/Mid 3rd/Att 3rd)

Successful Pressures

Blocks

Clearances

Interceptions

Errors

WhoScored Rating

SofaScore Rating

Player A

89.7%

0

1

15 (8/5/2)

2

2

2

3

0

6.5

6.6

Player B

91.2%

2

0

11 (8/1/1)

2

2

12

0

0

6.3

6.7

Player C

78.7%

2

2

12 (3/7/2)

5

2

1

4

0

6.1

6.3

Player D

90.6%

3

1

8 (6/1/1)

3

0

10

3

1

6.1

6.4


Below is who each is:

Players

Going by the online discourse, Makoun had the worst game of everyone. It was a game so bad, in fact, that he should definitively be benched. But did he have the worst game? Well how do you judge that? Here's what I mean:

  • Fuchs had the lowest passing percentage, by a lot. But he was also playing fullback for most of the game and asked to run up and down the pitch starting attacks. His passing was definitely the most adventurous of the backline, so you would expect the completion percentage to suffer a bit.

  • Lindsey had 0 tackles, so is he the worst? You could say that, but he also led the team in defensive pressures and had a good number of interceptions.

  • Makoun had 0 interceptions. Is he the worst? Well, he had the most clearances in the game, wasn't dribbled past, and had the highest passing percentage of the group.

  • Corujo had the error that led directly to a goal. Is he the worst? Maybe, but he also had the most successful pressures on the team as well as the most tackles.

  • If we go by the rating systems, Corujo is the worst with Fuchs not far behind. Isn't it interesting to note that SofaScore has Makoun as the best of the bunch and WhoScored has him 2nd to Lindsey.

I was only able to rewatch the second half of the game (unfortunately, Hulu, which is my tv provider, only had the 2nd half, for some unknown reason). In rewatching it, I only saw serious issues with Makoun twice. Once was in the 66th minute where Rennicks beats him badly to the near post but mishits the shot. At the same time, I have a lot of issues with Lindsey who is incredibly slow to close down the crosser. The second time I saw issues was right after he came together with Buksa at the halfway line. After that, Makoun was clearly hurt and was holding his hip, struggling to move. It didn't look serious at the time, but it was definitely affecting him. He came off shortly after. Perhaps a non-broadcast version would show more issues, especially with positioning, but I don't have access to that.


If I had to pick the worst showing, I personally think it's Corujo (who I am also a fan of). This choice is not just because of his error that led directly to the goal. He was also defending Buksa, who beasts him badly in the air, on the first goal. I thought he got caught out a few more times too. With that said, I think it was just one of those games for him and, importantly, I don't think it's some sort of sign of his demise or that he shouldn't play anymore.


Perhaps it's just my online feeds/algorithms, but I've really only seen Makoun being singled out for criticism amongst the backline. See this post in reddit as an example. Now, I'm not trying to call out the poster or anyone who agrees with him/her; that's seriously not my intention. I'm simply trying to say that there seems to be a prevalent opinion amongst Charlotte fans that Makoun--a 22 year old, internationally capped CB--is terrible. I'm just not sure where this is coming from. I'd love for some specific reasons or examples in order to understand why people believe he's been so bad.


I'm also not going to sit here and say that Makoun is undroppable. In my opinion the only 3 players who are undroppable right now are Świderski, Kahlina, and Fuchs (the first two due to form and the latter due to form, but mostly experience). However, I'm just struggling to understand why so many people are convinced that Makoun shouldn't be anywhere near the starting XI.


This also connects with my second big issue: the continued clamoring for Armour to be a starter. Just as I don't believe Makoun is undroppable, I am not suggesting that Armour shouldn't be starting. I'm just wondering why so many are convinced that he must. To hear some fans, you would think Charlotte is keeping prime Dani Alves on the bench when, in reality, this is a 19 year old fullback with very little professional experience. If we were to take away the fact that he is a native Carolinian who scored the first goal in club history, is the outcry for him to play as strong? I'm not so sure. I would love to be wrong and have him change the complexion of this team; he's a really talented young player. I'm just extremely skeptical that a 19 year old will be able to do that.


All of this leads to me to this final point: If you take out Fuchs, this backline is incredibly--almost laughably--young. I've talked about this before in the left back piece but, as a recap, here are the ages of all listed defenders on Charlotte's roster:

  • Armour, 19

  • Fuchs, 35

  • Mora, 29

  • Corujo, 25

  • Makoun, 22

  • Lindsey, 22

  • Sobociński, 23

  • Walkes, 25

  • Santos, 22

The average age of that group is 24.67. If we take out Fuchs, it's 23.38. If we take out Fuchs and Mora (who most don't want playing), the average age is 22.57! I can't stress enough how unbelievable that is. The prime age for CBs is usually considered to be around 27-29. Fullbacks might break in a bit younger, especially since the modern version of the position requires so much athleticism and running, but they're not usually 19-21. You always have exceptional players who are great from a young age, but it doesn't happen all the time.


With such young defenders, mistakes and bad games are going to happen. I don't believe the majority of fans are prepared for this. We are an expansion team with young, talented defenders, none of whom are the finished product. We as fans really need to understand this and view their performances with this fact in mind. We can be critical, to be sure, and I don't believe anyone in the squad, front office, or coaching staff is beyond questioning. A healthy club and fanbase invites discussion about players and tactics.


My problems is that so many are calling for the benching of a young, talented, largely unproven player (Makoun) while also insisting that another young, talented, largely unproven player (Armour) must play. I'm not against either decision being made, I just see little evidence for why either decision must happen.


#3: New England fan turnout

The weather on Saturday night was not the greatest (chilly and rainy). With that said, the turnout for New England was embarrassing. This is a club that is coming off a Supporter's Shield season and has huge amounts of talent, yet the stadium was mostly empty. I took this picture right before kickoff:


The supporters' section is behind the opposite goal from where we were. There's no one there!


The loudest I heard the fans get was the large group of children that were at the game on the other side of the pitch (I guess there was some event because there were a TON of them). I barely ever heard the New England SGs. There was one Revs fan that came over to the away section in order to get chants started among the NE fans when we Charlotte fans chanted. The fact that they were worried about our small (but loud!) group of away fans tells you all you need to know about theirs.


A lot has been made of Charlotte's attendance. I think the above picture is what some people think BoA looks like, which couldn't be farther from the truth. The reported attendance for this game was over 15,000. I just don't believe that. The Revs might have won this game, but I walked away being all the more impressed with the support CLTFC is getting.


Conclusion

This team has problems, but most of us know that. Even with those problems, Charlotte still had a chance to get something out of this game. The best news is we don't have to wait long to see the boys back at it. Wednesday offers a fantastic opportunity for us to bounce back. Armour should absolutely be getting minutes, along with, in my opinion, Ortiz, Ruiz, Reyna, Gaines, Walkes, and Jones. I don't think we should rotate the entire squad, but it's a great chance to get some of these less used players some real game time. A win on Wednesday--before going into a tough away game against Colorado--would be invaluable. Here's to that happening!





164 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page