(Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports)
Record: 13-3-18 (42 points/9th in East)
Team Leader Goals: K. Swiderski (10), D. Rios (7), A. Shinyashiki (6)
Team Leader Assists: B. Bender (6), K. Swiderski (4), M. Gaines (4)
Manager: Christian Lattanzio
Additions: F E. Copetti (undisclosed fee from Racing Club/ 27 years old) MF A. Westwood ( free from Burnley/ 32 years old)
Subtractions: Christian Fuchs (retired), D. Rios (Chivas for undisclosed fee), J. Alcivar ( C.S.D. Independiente del Valle for undisclosed fee)
Designated Players: Enzo Copetti, Karol Swiderski, Kamil Jozwiak
Projected Starting XI:
Charlotte FC look to build on their momentum with which they ended their inaugural season under manager Christian Lattanzio, who took over midway through the season after the sacking of Miguel Angel Ramirez. Seeing the work Lattanzio did with only half a season, most fans seem to be filled with excitement to see what he can do with a fresh, full season!
As the CLTFC community looks forward to the new season, they also look back to the passing of Anton Walkes. Anton will truly be missed as he helped bring that energy to the team that was needed to spark the flame in the 2nd half of last year's season. Not only was Anton a great player, but also he was a great person off the field who was loved by his teammates and always had a positive attitude.
Let’s talk about a couple of new additions to the team. First, there is Ashley Westwood, who comes from Burnley on a free transfer. Westwood played 10 seasons in the Premier League with Aston Villa and Burnley where he racked up 32 assists and 12 goals. Westwood could bring that veteran type of presence to the team that Christian Fuchs brought last year. Now for the big DP signing, Enzo “El Tanque” Copetti. Copetti comes with a scoring pedigree, scoring 31 goals in 96 appearances with Racing Club, including scoring goals in major competitions such as Libertadores and the Copa Sudamerica. In the 2022 season of the Argentine Primera Division, Copetti helped Racing reach 2nd place, ending the season only 2 points behind Boca Juniors. If Enzo keeps up that momentum and Swiderski hits his form that he showed he is capable of, those 2 could be a nightmare for defenders in MLS this season!
There seems to be a few options going forward for Charlotte, as Vinicius Mello comes back to the team. He was out all last season with an injury, it’s almost like having another new player coming in this year. One also cannot forget about Andre Shinyashiki, who is always a threat going forward and will be fighting for a place in the squad. Kerwin Vargas and McKinze Gaines will be looking to throw their names in the hat as well, in what looks to be an interesting battle for several key positions.
Going into the season Charlotte will be without their number one keeper, Kristijan Kahlina. Kahlina picked up a back injury which required surgery. The surgery was successful. Pablo Sisniega will more than likely get the nod while Kahlina recovers. Another player returning from injury is fan favorite Guzman Corujo. Corujo picked up an ACL tear in his right knee against the Chicago Fire last August.
Charlotte FC look to be a more rounded side who can go on the road and get a result. Last season Charlotte only had 3 draws, if they can at least turn some of those losses into draws, they will be in a much better position at the end of the season than the year previous. It is not out of the question to predict that Charlotte FC will make the playoffs this year. There is a feeling that Lattanzio has what it takes to continue to push the team in the right direction. The main area of concern seems to be the midfield, as there are questions of who will play the holding midfielder and which players can provide the best link up play through the middle, as well as the wide options.
(Charlotte FC team site)