Union match reports

Match preview: Charlotte FC vs Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

This piece has been edited after publication to clarify Jose Martinez’s status.

Who: Charlotte FC vs Philadelphia Union

What: MLS Regular Season

Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC

When: Wednesday, September 20, 7:39 p.m. Kickoff

Watch: Apple TV (Free)

Whistle: REF: Guido Gonzales Jr, AR1: Jason White, AR2: Jeffrey Swartzel, 4TH: Chris Penso, VAR: Greg Dopka, AVAR: Mike Kampmeinert

The Philadelphia Union travel south for a midweek clash with Charlotte FC.

Fifteen points separate the two teams in the Eastern Conference standings, with the Union sitting in fourth place on 47 points, with Charlotte currently in 11th place on 32 points as they battle for a spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs.

The two teams last met back on May 31 in Chester, with the Union prevailing 1-0 thanks to what was ruled an own goal by Charlotte goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina.

This matchup marks the fourth time that these two teams have met, with each of the three previous meetings resulting in a shut-out win for the home side. The Union will look to break this trend and take points on the road.

Scouting Report: Charlotte FC

Similarly to the Union, one of Charlotte’s strongest advantages this year has been playing at home.

The turf at Bank of America Stadium has been friendly, as Charlotte has lost just one of its last 12 regular-season home matches (W4, D7) dating back to late March, including going unbeaten in the last six (W1, D5).

They are one of five teams with fewer than two home losses since that run began (New England (0), Cincinnati, Columbus and Philadelphia (one each).

Charlotte comes into Wednesday’s match after a 0-0 draw at home against D.C. United; a match in which keeper Kahlina saved all six shots he faced.

Similar to the Union’s weekend result, the draw was a missed opportunity to take three crucial points at home.  The result kept Charlotte three points behind ninth place D.C.; granted, Charlotte has two games in hand.

With seven games remaining, Wednesday’s match isn’t quite a must-win for Charlotte, but it’s pretty darn close.

Head coach Christian Lattanzio would love to see another clean sheet to bolster his side’s chances at three points.

Lattanzio noted the strong play of his center backs Adil Malanda and Andre Privett during Saturday’s clean sheet against D.C, as well as the aforementioned performance of goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina.  He’ll be hoping for more of the same against the Union.

The issue for Charlotte has been finding those goals.  As Lattanzio stated while speaking to the press after Saturday’s match, “We have to be more focused and to play better in the last third.”

Attacking midfielder Karol Swiderski leads the team with seven goals this season, with forward Enzo Copetti netting five.

Player Availability: Dejaegere (QUESTIONABLE- Thigh), Diop (PROBABLE – Abdominal), Mello (OUT – Leg), Sisniega (OUT – Back), Armour (QUESTIONABLE – Knee)

Scouting Report: Philadelphia Union

The Union are looking to bounce back from a frustrating 2-2 home draw against Supporters’ Shield leading FC Cincinnati on Saturday night.

A draw against the league leaders is certainly nothing to scoff at.  However, the draw was the first time since August 2017 that the Union failed to win an MLS match when leading by at least two goals.  Hence the ‘frustrating’ adjective.

As such, head coach Jim Curtin stressed the important of trying to maintain clean sheets as his team heads down the regular season home stretch, into the playoffs.

Speaking to press midweek, Curtin said, “I stress to the group, as the games get tighter and the teams are all desperate now, you know you’re in a position where the chances are few and far between. So getting back to those clean sheets that we haven’t had as frequently this season, something that really defines us. Keeping a clean sheet is critical, especially as you move into the playoffs, in the games where the margins are razor thin, and there’s not a lot of chances.”

Making a clean sheet difficult will be the absence of center back Jack Elliott, who picked up two yellow cards during Saturday’s match, and thus will serve his red card suspension against Charlotte.

Perhaps even more important would be the absence of Jose Martinez, who came off early with an injury on Saturday night.  But Curtin said in his weekly press conference that Martinez is ready to go, so expect that the pivotal center defensive mid will be available and in the starting lineup.

Despite being known for his aggressiveness on defense, Martinez has found success offensively as of late, having scored three goals in his last eight MLS match.  This comes after failing to score in any of his first 81 regular season appearance, despite a health amount of attempts.

Player Availability: Elliott (OUT – Red Card Suspension), Flach (OUT – Hernia), Martinez (QUESTIONABLE)

Matchup to Watch: Union Centerbacks

Charlotte has struggled in the final third this year, but with Elliott unavailable, the likes of Jakob Glesnes and Damien Lowe will need to be sharp.

Player to Watch: Kai Wagner

Wagner has been in the news recently with speculation of him leaving this winter.  If that’s the case, Union fans will be hoping for a solid stretch of performances to end his time with the U.

Prediction: Charlotte FC 1 – 2 Philadelphia Union


  1. More likely Charlotte 2-0 Philadelphia given how bad the Union have been on turf over the last two seasons.

  2. A win would be nice. No idea what to expect tonight. Charlotte is not that good, but plastic pitches have been unkind to us.

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