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Charlotte FC finds its footing in first win, 3-1 over New England


By Steve Goldberg


While the offense had been slow to develop in the first three matches, it came quickly this warm last day of winter evening, six minutes in to the second-ever home match with Karol Swiderski slotting ball inside the goalkeeper's right post with a nifty left-footed strike from about 23 yards out just left of center. Alan Franco had the assist.

Then he did it again, 12 minutes into the second half taking a ball over the top on the right side of the penalty area. As he drove to goal, the defense collapsed, and he lobbed the ball in to Daniel Rios who could not control it and the ball continued wide to Ben Bender on the left. The rookie played it on the ground to Swiderski who finished it just as he had his first goal, inside the keeper's right post with his left.

In between those goals, Charlotte's resolve was tested once again with a penalty kick called against goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina five minutes earlier after he took down Matthew Polster inside the top of the box. It was the third penalty kick in four matches against Charlotte FC and could have proven devastating to their psyche.

Instead, it energized them.

Only seven minutes after retaking the lead 2-1, Charlotte extended it. Jordy Alcivar beat defender Omar Gonzalez down the right and cut the ball back to Bender a few steps left of the penalty spot. The number one draft pick showed his mettle, taking the ball first time on the bounce to place it home for a 3-1 lead.

Then it came down to seeing the game through and protecting the win, which they did with vim and vigor, throwing bodies in front of every Revs shot they could. What got past them was handled by Kahlina.

"New England is a great team in the league with great ambitions," said captain Christian Fuchs, "but so are we."

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