Orlando City will face Charlotte FC for the first time in MLS at Exploria Stadium this Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. It will be exciting to see Orlando play a new team and it will be even more interesting to see how the Lions recover from last weekend’s home defeat to the New York Red Bulls. Let’s take a deeper dive into MLS’s newest team, Charlotte FC.
Charlotte ranks in the bottom half of the league in goals scored this season (8), but what’s more interesting is where those goals have come from. Of the eight goals Charlotte has scored this year, four have come from inside the box and four have come from outside. This interesting disparity has placed the club first in goals outside the box but also last in MLS in goals inside the box. Charlotte finds itself sitting in the middle of MLS when it comes to total scoring attempts (102), ranking 12th. However, when MLS’s newest club does get chances, it has been accurate, ranking sixth in on-target scoring attempts (42) and second in accurate shooting percentage (41.2%).
Charlotte has been a solid defensive team this year, especially when you consider it is the club’s first season in MLS. In the same number of matches, Charlotte has only conceded one more goal (11) than Orlando (10) and is tied fifth in clean sheets (3) while the Lions are tied for first (5) in shutouts. Charlotte has been excellent in disrupting the opponents’ passing game, ranking seventh in interceptions (90), and in attempting to pressure the opposition, where the expansion side is fourth in the league in pressures (1,445). Some areas where Charlotte has seen some trouble on the defensive side has been in one-on-one situations, with a duel percentage of (47.1%), which is 23rd in MLS. Another cause for concern is that Charlotte has given up the fourth-most shots on goal against (46) of any club this year.
Players to Watch
The majority of offense for Charlotte has come from forward Karol Swiderski, who leads the club in goals (4), two of which have come from inside and two from outside the box. Furthermore, Swiderski is on top of the club in scoring attempts (21), and shots on target (13). Swiderski is also second among players with over 200 minutes of time on the pitch this year for Charlotte in accurate shooting percentage, putting the ball on target 61.9% of the time. Midfielder Benjamin Bender has been an integral part of the club’s offensive success as well. Bender is the team leader in assists (3).
Defender Christian Fuchs has been one of the leaders for Charlotte on defense. Fuchs has been the best in one-on-one situations, winning 85 duels so far, and he has been a big part of the disruption to the opposition’s passing game, as he is tied for second in interceptions (15). Defender Guzmán Corujo has done slightly better than Fuchs in interceptions, recording 19 for Charlotte this year. Kristijan Kahlina is the starting goalkeeper for Charlotte and he has had a relatively good season so far. Kahlina is tied for eighth in MLS in most goals allowed (11), but he is third in total saves (35) and has one of the league’s better save percentages (76.1%) among starting goalkeepers.
This is what I was able to find on the Lions’ next opponent, Charlotte FC. Let me know your thoughts in the comments and as always, go Orlando!