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Commentary – Result notwithstanding, Charlotte FC is better than expected


When the Charlotte Hornets played their first NBA game in 1988, they lost by 40 points… and got a standing ovation from the home crowd.

Charlotte FC's first game ended in a 3-0 loss to DC United, not quite a 40-point margin with the conversion rate, but despite that, I would give the effort of the blue and white my own standing ovation as they played with the boldness and intensity that coach Miguel Angel Ramirez said he wanted. The possession-based passing game, many times starting under pressure out of the back is ambitious and requires technical skill, patience, and instinctually solid decision-making. It has its risk and will offer some heart stopping moments that may gray a few hairs.

But when it works, and it did more often than expected in this match, it was a joy to watch. Charlotte created opportunities throughout. Indeed, they scored the first goal only to lose it on an offsides call that was valid. Unfortunately, there was no validity to the penalty call given to DC for a handball call when a shot grazed the arm of Brandt Bronico which was where it should have been, pressed close to his body.

When reviewed by the Video Assistant Referee – a technology I am in favor of though not the way it is interpreted in the Premier League or in Washington tonight – the official in charge should have also taken into account a clear foul against Charlotte preceding the shot, which should have made everything after it moot. Later in the game, a similar situation that could have/should have resulted in a PK for Charlotte was ignored by both referee and VAR. Et tu, Brute? To err is referee. To not correct it is VAR.

The second goal, in added time at the end of the first half, took a wicked deflection on a shot that goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina had measured and could only watch in dismay as it spun over his head into the net. The third was a ball that rebounded into the Charlotte net after Kahlina dove to punch out a low cross that bounced off United's Ola Kamara a few feet away.

It's disappointing that Charlotte didn't score. Besides the disallowed goal, Adam Armour, who came on in the 86th minute, hit a strong low shot that was well-saved by Yordy Reyna almost finished a brilliant buildup with a shot that hit the far post and bounced out. Christian Fuchs had a couple of headers that were close enough to prove that he will be a target on set pieces over the season.

Time out for an editorial point here – I hate it when commentators say a shot was denied by the post or crossbar. Am I the only one who learned vector resolution in high school physics? If the ball hits the frame and doesn't go in, then it was never going in! Only when the posts actually move to intercept a shot will they actually deny it. Okay, deep breath. Thanks for letting me vent on that. Where was I?

Fuchs wore the captain's armband, something I expect to become permanent. It will be a players vote but I feel they will recognize what I do. His accomplishments in the games are already respected. The finishing should improve when Daniel Rios, acquired from Nashville just a day or so ago, gets training time with the squad and especially with the team's only Designated Player at this point, Karol Swiderski gets his visa sorted out.

Bottom line, I saw enough today to be excited for tomorrow, more specifically next Saturday and the home opener which will boast one of, if not the largest crowds in MLS history. There will probably be more nerves in that one as there's always more pressure at home and this will be the first ever for that. It's going to be a long season that will carry us through October, hopefully longer. It's going to be fun.

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The original Stevie G, Steve Goldberg has covered real football at every level including five FIFA World Cups for media including USA Today, TNT, ESPN, and Nike.com. He played collegiately at Georgia and Georgia State and for the USA Maccabiah Pan-Am team. He still competes in the Charlotte Premier Soccer League hoping there aren't too many gameday conflicts with CLTFC. Attachments area


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