Charlotte FC edges out Chelsea in dramatic penalty shootout
By Steve Goldberg
With two minutes left in the match against English Premier League contenders Chelsea, Charlotte FC coach Christian Lattanzio made his 16th and final substitution, dropping 16 year old academy player Brian Romero into the deep end of the pool. Along with setting up a defense that kept the current FIFA club world champions off the scoreboard, save for Michy Batshauyi’s deflected shot by that Christian Pulisic opportunistically collected alone against Kristijan Kahlina to score from ten yards out, it proved to be his best move of the night.
Romero, who has played for the U.S. U17 national team, would get the ball at his feet 25 yards out right of center and dribbled diagonally to his left into the Chelsea box, eventually taking a left footed shot from about 8 yards out on the left. A sliding Trevoh Chalobah blocked the shot with his left arm leading to a penalty kick that Daniel Rios slotted to tie the score.
Even though this was an early pre-season match for Chelsea and a mid-week run for Charlotte between two MLS road games, it went to penalty kicks to determine a winner. Number three keeper Pablo Sisniega had finished the match so he would be in the nets defending for the Crown. On Chelsea’s third kick, Sisniega stood his ground to save Conor Gallagher’s shot down the middle. Charlotte would hit on all five attempts to deliver the win in front of 52,673 fans at Bank of America Stadium.