FC Cincinnati and Charlotte FC have reasons for some early season confidence, and what they do with it is bound to factor into Saturday night’s matchup in Charlotte, N.C.
“When you’re playing well consistently over the course of 90 minutes and you’re winning games, it always builds the confidence,” Cincinnati coach Pat Noonan said.
Cincinnati (2-2-0, 6 points) should have that after notching back-to-back wins. On Saturday, the fourth-year club will try to extend its winning streak to three for the first time ever.
Expansion Charlotte (1-3-0, 3 points) is coming off the first victory in franchise history.
Some of the natural hubbub has faded surrounding the Charlotte club after a couple of significant achievements connected to the team’s first two home games on the past two Saturdays.
First, there was the largest crowd (74,479) in MLS history for the home opener at Bank of America Stadium. Then last week, Charlotte collected its first victory by defeating the New England Revolution, 3-1.
Now it’s on to the next task.
“Let’s think about Cincinnati on Saturday,” Charlotte coach Miguel Angel Ramirez said.
Cincinnati’s Brandon Vazquez has four goals, sharing the MLS lead. His 10 career goals are tops in the club’s 95-game history.
“I wouldn’t be able to do without all my teammates and the whole team puts me in positions to put the ball in the back of the net,” he said. “We have a long way to go. We have to stay focused, stay grounded and keep working.”
Vazquez has enjoyed a real connection with defender Ronald Matarrita, who assisted on both Vazquez goals in a 3-1 win over Inter Miami last week. But this week, Matarrita was called up to Costa Rica’s national team for a World Cup qualifier assignment.
“He’s got the best left foot I’ve seen,” Vazquez said. “He’s putting the ball on a platter for me. I can’t ask for anything better.”
Matarrita also had a goal against Miami.
But the team has others capable of pushing the pace. Much of Cincinnati’s recent success can be attributed to the pressure applied from midfielder Luciano Acosta.
After suffering a pair of shutouts to open the season, FCC responded with a pair of wins and a combined five goals.
“Work always wins,” Vazquez said. “You got to put in extra work if you want to get better results and I’m glad it’s going that way for us.”
For Charlotte, Karol Swiderski had two goals last week against New England, while teammate Ben Bender provided a goal and an assist.
Ramirez, however, cautioned against altering the team’s objectives based on one three-goal game.
“We have to be very clear of who we are,” the coach said. “Expectations are never helping because you’re always thinking about the future and what could happen. Because you’re not in the present.”
After Saturday, Charlotte plays four of its next five games on the road.
–Field Level Media