Charlotte FC delivers on the promise of fun football
Miguel Angel Ramírez didn’t make big promises when he arrived in Charlotte to coach the city’s Major League Soccer expansion team in his first year.
And he repeatedly dismissed any too-early talk of Charlotte FC in the playoffs despite the new team beating some of the league’s best in their first games, including regional rivals Atlanta United 1-0 at Bank of America on Sunday. Stadium.
But while Ramírez didn’t promise any wins, he said players and fans can expect something just as essential to building an expansion brand: Fun.
Charlotte FC offers exactly that, not only in the stands but also in the goals scored.
Midfielder Jordy Alcívar became the latest Charlotte FC player to turn heads for his 11th-minute corner kick. He scored an Olimpico on Sunday to propel Charlotte to fifth in the Eastern Conference standings (out of 14 teams).
Alcivar said he was training this week with Super Draft pick and 21-year-old phenom Ben Bender. Alcivar, a 22-year-old Ecuadorian, had also prepared his dance moves. He fired the ball at the far post and over the hands of Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan. Then he ran to the bleachers and performed a booty-shaking dance that he says was inspired by Colombian footballer Pablo Armero.
“Celebration is something I’ve always had in mind since I came to the league,” Alcívar said in Spanish.
Ramírez did not question the shot, explaining that Alcívar is a player “sin vergüenza”, meaning without shame or fear. Ramírez said Alcívar had a certain “spark”, which is an identity Charlotte FC are trying to lean on as a team.
“This game model allows any team to be able to compete with good players,” Ramirez said of his possession-based system. “When you have better players up front the only way to beat them is with that style, that’s my belief.”
And what exactly is this game model? What does it look like for the players on the pitch?
“Courageous”, “patient” and “really rather smart”, said midfielder Brandt Bronico.
“The way we build, the tactics that (Ramírez) uses,” Bronico said. “I don’t want to go too deep with this, but I think I can speak for the whole team and say we love the way we play football.”
Fans also noticed it. The Southern Derby, in which Charlotte hosted an Atlanta side badly depleted by injury and missing star forward Josef Martínez, drew a crowd of more than 32,000 fans. The rivalry, the home crowd record for the opener against LA Galaxy and Karol Świderski’s shots probably helped gain home support.
Świderski, while seeing significant minutes on Sunday, didn’t see many opportunities, which could have dampened the momentum at home. Instead, Alcívar stepped up and Charlotte played over 90 minutes of entertaining football. They conceded no goals in stoppage time.
The next test will be road victory, as Bronico noted. It’s a challenge they haven’t taken up yet. They looked sluggish against Philadelphia last weekend, and they’ll be far from their ‘fortress’, as Bronico described it, for their next three MLS games and an Open Cup game against the Greenville Triumph. April 19.
But the goals they’ve scored so far have looked good. They were exciting. The club have sustained fan interest, and that is something worth celebrating. Ramírez summed up the mentality.
“They invited us to dance, and we don’t dance so badly,” he said in Spanish. “We are dancing. We will see what happens next week.