Go Westwood (Old Man)

Editor’s note: this post was written, and set to be published, right before the tragic death of Anton Walkes. It was held back out of respect for him, his family, his friends, his teammates, and all those, including us at The Crown Cast, who mourn his passing. Rest in peace, Anton.

As Charlotte continue their recruitment for the 2023 MLS Season, they announced their biggest signing in name since the transfer of now coach Christian Fuchs by signing Premier League veteran Ashley Westwood from Burnley.

Unlike most of Charlotte’s big moves in their short history, this move was met with more skepticism than many within the club were probably anticipating. Fans raised concerns about the profile of the player. The combination of his age (Westwood will turn 33 early in April) and the fact that he is coming off a major injury (suffered towards the end of the 2021/22 Premier League season) have left people wondering how immediate of a contribution he can make under these circumstances.

Though these concerns are legitimate–and I’m sure will have been well-considered by the recruitment-team–there can be no doubt about the quality of player they are signing and what he could bring to Charlotte’s midfield.

Should he make a full recovery from what was a very serious injury, there are plenty of traits Charlotte fans can look forward to.

The Charlotte Setup

It is unclear what system Head Coach Christian Lattanzio will implement for this season, and his changing of formation throughout last season provides no clear answer.

It seems most likely (based on the systems most commonly used and the squad profile) that Charlotte will play some form of a 4-1-4-1, 4-3-3, or a 4-2-3-1, with the latter being Lattanzio’s ideal set up, at least in my mind. In that system, a likely midfield for that system would be:

Swiderski in the 10 role is likely to continue given his form their last season, paired with the acquisition of Enzo Copetti as a 9. The main question is likely to be who Westwood’s midfield partner will be between Bronico or Jones. I have given Bronico the nod here, but either player would be a good fit next to Westwood, who has played in a midfield 2 beside a variety of players in his career.

Westwood’s Midfield Role

This is a tough one to answer. Because of Westwood’s aforementioned experience of performing different roles in a midfield pair, combined with the fact both Bronico and Jones themselves have played as a 6 and an 8, respectively, we may only get real clarity on how the team will look to allocate those roles once pre-season begins.

Having said that, Westwood himself sees the qualities he should be bringing to the side very clearly, as he described during his media availability on Tuesday.

Whether this was based on conversations between himself and Lattanzio, or just a candid answer of how he ideally sees his game is unclear, but this “playmaking box-to-box midfield” role could certainly be facilitated by either Bronico or Jones playing with him in a deeper ‘6’ role.

Let’s break down this role further, in his own words:


For regular watchers of the Premier League, they will know “playmaking” and “Burnley” aren’t exactly words that go hand in hand. Under Sean Dyche, they implemented an old-school 4-4-2 “playing the percentages” style based on being incredibly direct with long-distance passing and very aggressive physically throughout the centre of the pitch.

This obviously doesn’t lend itself to much creativity from the midfield pair, however, in Westwood’s case he was still able to find moments where he could show his talent by providing goal-scoring opportunities in a way that didn’t compromise Dyche’s style.

For those familiar with Westwood’s game, him possessing this quality from open play will come as no surprise. He is also a highly productive corner-taker.

In an area of the game that is becoming less and less directly effective, Westwood was able to still bring value to it, pairing a great ball-striking ability with the size advantage Burnley was able to boast over most sides.

Westwood has an incredible ability to be precise with delivering the ball into an area 3-6 yards from goal, as well as beyond the middle of the box. He does so with a high-arcing strike that ensures the ball cannot be defended by any of the players before that area of the box.

Whilst these may not be the conventional areas of “playmaking” that we would associate with say, a Karol Swiderski, this consistency of production still cannot be discounted – especially for a team that was 24th in xAG (expected assisted goals) in MLS last season.


When analyzing Westwood as a box-to-box player, you almost have to separate it into two categories.

He has impressive ball carrying in transition to, quite literally, take a team from a defensive situation to a good goalscoring opportunity

He is also able to win the ball in the middle portion of the field, followed by a driving run into the opposition third to create space for others and ultimately create opportunities for himself.

Whichever side of the description you wish to choose, it is clear that Westwood backs up the notion that he is a highly active midfield player who is not only able to be productive defensively through his work rate but also use it to contribute in attack.

Statistically, Westwood stacks up as one of the highest-ranking players in terms of distance covered, finishing as high as 7th in the entire Premier League in distance covered over the full 2019/2020 season.

Though we likely won’t see Westwood amongst the top 10 in distance covered in MLS due to Lattanzio’s much more possession-based style, it will still be just as vital that he’s able to deal comfortably with covering large areas of the field.

As well as being more possession-based, Lattanzio’s style has put an emphasis on width when playing in 4-2-3-1. With the wingers staying wide, naturally, this will create more space for the central midfielders to have to account for, a task I believe Westwood should be firmly up for.


This is one last area is important to touch on with regard to the Ashley Westwood acquisition.

With Christian Fuchs’ retirement and Harrison Afful re-signing on terms that should see his playing time take a dip, Charlotte was at risk of losing a lot of experience on the field. Lack of experience is hard to quantify but is generally accepted to be very important.

Not only does Westwood serve as a direct replacement to Fuchs as a veteran with a decade’s experience in top-flight European football, but by signing him at age 32 (compared to Fuchs playing the majority of last season at age 36), the club will hope that Westwood will have plenty of good years left to contribute. He should be able to set the tone and the culture as a leader of the players.

All things being considered, this is a really smart signing for both on and off-the-field contributions. I myself am excited to watch him in this constantly improving squad.

Anton Walkes, farewell

The Crown Cast family, along with soccer fans worldwide, were shocked and dismayed to learn of the sudden passing of Charlotte FC CB Anton Walkes, 25, on the morning of January 19th, 2023.

From Charlottefootballclub.com

If you, like the author of this piece, weren’t particularly familiar with MLS as a whole-and Walkes in particular-prior to him getting playing time in the second half of our inaugural season, the amount of footballing success he had in such a short time is impressive. We wanted to take a moment to look back on, and celebrate, his professional career.

Walkes was identified early as a talent, joining the Tottenham Hotspur academy in 2013, at only 16. He captained the youth team there in the UEFA Youth League 3 times. He made his senior debut with the Spurs first team in 2016, during an EFL Cup match that Tottenham would win 5-0.

The following year would bring Anton to America, as he was loaned to Atlanta United for their first season in MLS. He started playing immediately at right back for the club and scored his first of two goals for Atlanta on July 5th 2017, against the San Jose Earthquakes.

His loan spell ended at the conclusion of that MLS season and Walkes returned briefly to Tottenham. He was again loaned out, this time to the south coast of England, to Portsmouth in League One, England’s third division. After 12 appearances and 2 goals for Portsmouth on loan, a full transfer was completed, and Anton would spend 2018 through 2020 with Pompey, as the club is known, including an appearance in a dramatic EFL Trophy Final in 2019. Portsmouth would beat Sunderland on penalties in that match, with Walkes a late substitute on for his side.

In 2020, America came calling for Anton again, as a transfer back to Atlanta United was completed. Between 2020 and 2021, he would make 50 appearances for the club, scoring 1 goal.

Although he appeared to be a fan favorite, Walkes was left unprotected in the expansion draft, and Charlotte FC made him one of three key picks, along with McKinzie Gaines and Joseph Mora. After several inexplicable weeks on the bench, the firing of one manager, and various leg injuries to both Guzman Corujo and Christian Fuchs, Walkes got his opportunity to play centrally in Christian Lattanzio’s defense. He never let the spot go.

Walkes would play in 23 league matches for the club, starting 21, cementing his spot at CB. He proved a powerful defender, strong in challenges and intelligent in his positioning. Late in the season, his partnership with summer signing Adilson Malanda proved highly effective for the Crown. Although he didn’t score for the side, he proved dangerous both in the box in attack and swinging in passes from the right side, a reminder of his time at right back.

Tragically, during preseason training in South Florida, Anton Walkes was involved in a boating accident that left him critically injured. He would pass away in Miami the morning of January 19th.

The Crown Cast joins Charlotte FC, MLS, and soccer fans around the world in mourning this loss. We extend our thoughts and prayers to Anton’s family, friends, and the team.

We loved watching you play, Anton, and you will be missed. Rest in Peace.

A Tale of Two Kamils

Ah, Kamil Jóźwiak. It feels like Charlotte fans either love him or hate him. A once-hyped European talent who had a really good Euro 2020, his time at Derby took some shine off of his promise. Further, having come to Charlotte as a DP, many looked at him to have an immediate impact on the team.

He did not.

As I covered in my preview of him last year (one of my first posts at my old Banks, Beer, and Soccer location), there were a number of factors that gave me pause about Jóźwiak, and I summed it up as such:

At the end of the day, is this transfer worth it? Yes. This squad still lacks depth and it lacks talent. Jóźwiak gives that. While I do have concerns about the profile and his inability so far to consistently produce, he is still only 23.

If we view his previous couple of seasons as heavily impacted by a global pandemic and a disastrously run club–both of which seem likely–then maybe we should view him more as the player coming off of his last season at Lech and Euro 2020. In doing that, it is hard not to be excited.

I still highly recommend anyone who didn’t check that article out do so, as it gives some context to why Derby (and Charlotte) wanted him (also, it’s one of my first, so go easy on me!). To summarize, though, his time in Poland as a young player was very exciting and promising.

That leads us to Jóźwiak with Charlotte. Kamil ended his season with zero goals and 3 assists, off of 1.7 xG and 2.7 xGA. His passing wasn’t awe-inspiring: 73.8% total completion percentage, 87.4% (215/246) on short passing, 73.0% (103/141) on medium passing, and 43.6% (17/39) on long passing. He averaged 3.52 crosses per 90 (45 total). So far this is the profile of a bust, especially for a DP.

Let’s make a quick aside and talk about that DP label, too, shall we? I’ve made this point a number of times (probably too many): it’s not Kamil’s fault that he is a DP. Has he produced at the level that you want from someone who is taking that spot and earning that level of money? Absolutely not. Even the most ardent Jóźwiak supports (and I’m probably among them) wouldn’t say he has. There are 2 things I will say about this, though.

First, he didn’t give himself that label or title. If you have issues with him being a DP–and these issues are valid–blame the FO, not Kamil. Professional athletes have a very short time to make money, so I never begrudge them the opportunity to make it. Further, it’s not our (i.e., the fan’s) money–it’s a (usually) billionaire owner’s money. Why are we taking the billionaire’s side in this debate?

Second, he won’t (or shouldn’t) be a DP for much longer. There was always the option of buying him down and, coupled with the cap going up, he should be bought down. As such, I encourage all to try to evaluate Jóźwiak as a player and not a DP. The question isn’t, is he worth the money? Rather, it’s can he help Charlotte FC compete, win, and challenge for a title?

Kamil appeared in 19 matches for Charlotte FC last year, making 13 starts. He played for 1,151 minutes, or just under 13 90s (12.8 to be exact). FBref has a handy feature where it breaks down where a player played positionally on a per game basis. I’m sure it’s not perfect, however, it can give us some idea of where Jóźwiak was deployed.

Kamil made his debut on 4/30 against Orlando City and came on as a “forward.” He started the next game (5/7 against Inter Miami) as a left midfielder. In his next 9 appearances, Kamil was deployed on the right hand side, listed as a right midfielder or even right back. There is the 5/29 game against Seattle where he appears to have played on the left in addition to the right, but for the most part his deployment is consistently on the right side of the pitch during this part of the season.

Starting with the 8/17 game against NYCFC, Kamil ends the season as our starting left midfielder/winger. He is listed as a “LM,RM” for the home match against NYCFC on 9/10, but the difference is clear: he is no longer a right sided player.

In the end, Kamil has two games labeled as a “forward,” 8 games where he’s being deployed on the right, and 8 games where he’s being deployed on the left. I’m here to tell you, right-side Kamil is useless; left-side Kamil shows real promise.

If we look at Kamil’s first 11 appearances for the club (again, the time when he is mostly a right-sided player), he contributes 0 goals and 0 assists on 1.1 xG and 0.4 xGA. There’s a further caveat to this, though!

Of that 1.1 xG, over half of it (0.6 xG to be specific) comes in one game: 7/3 against Houston. He also had 0.1 xGA in that game. Removing that one game and we have 0.5 xG and 0.3 xGA in 10 appearances. Oof.

In his final 8 appearances–again, from the left–Jóźwiak records 0 goals, but 3 assists (!) off of 0.6 xG and 2.3 (!!!!!!) xGA. Ok, I’m getting a bit carried away with the exclamation points because you still want to see more production, but the point is clear: on the left, Kamil is much more dangerous.

This trend appears in other statistics as well. When looking at Shot-Creating Actions (SCAs) and Goal-Creating Actions (GCAs), Left-Sided Kamil is much better than Right-Sided Kamil. He produced 44 SCAs on the year and 4 GCAs on the year. In his first 11 appearances, he created 21 SCAs and just 1 GCA. In his final 8 appearances, he created 23 SCAs and 3 GCAs. Still not great production, but a definite improvement.

When looking at his passing, he also improves it slightly from the left side: 74.66% compared with 72.84%.

Maybe you’re someone who doesn’t believe in the “stats” and goes by the “eye test.” Well, SofaScore’s rating shows the same type of improvement. Jóźwiak’s average rating for his first 11 games was 6.67, with a high of 7.1 and a low of 6.3. In his final 8 appearances, he had an average rating of 6.96 with a a high of 7.5 and a low of 5.9. That 5.9 was against RBNY on the last weekend when there was nothing to play for and the entire team looked like it would’ve preferred to be anywhere but in New Jersey (I mean, who could blame them, amirite?).

Then we have this heatmap:

Kamil Jóźwiak 2022 heatmap, via SofaScore.

Would you look at that. From the right, Kamil is rarely getting himself into dangerous positions. He’s confined to the touchline and his most consistent touching of the ball is near the halfway line and between the halfway line and penalty box. Importantly, though, it’s not really in the penalty box.

Now look at the left. It’s night and day, really. He’s still near the touchline, but he’s also picking up positions much more centrally. He’s further up the pitch and instead of being clustered in the middle of it, he’s operating near and around the box.

The answer for this change appears to be pretty simple, too. Kamil is right-footed. When deployed on the right, he’s forced to operate like an old-school, traditional winger, where the goal is to drive by players wide, get to the end-line, and make crosses. Think of the way Gaines likes to operate. On the left, though, Kamil is able to act as more of an inverted winger who can take people wide, but will drift inside onto his favored foot.

Now it should be noted that his time at Euro 2020 saw him exclusively operating from the right-hand side and his time with Derby also saw him more commonly on the right. Of course, if we view his time at Derby as a disappointment, we must also acknowledge that it might be because he was not playing where he should be (at least in my estimation). Unfortunately, SofaScore doesn’t have heatmaps for his time in the Polish league.

The other point of discussion for Kamil has often been who should be deployed on the left instead of him. This past year there were probably 3 main candidates for this role: Ben Bender, Andre Shinyashiki, and Yordy Reyna. While all 3 can play as a left-sided midfielder, I don’t believe all can play there in Christian Lattanzio’s system.

First, I’m of the opinion Bender is better when he is deployed more centrally, either as one of a pair of 8s or as a 10. When he is able to take up central positions and then drift into wide spaces (and vice versa), he is much more effective.

Second, Shinyashiki’s scoring ability is good, but it’s clear that Lattanzio, for better or worse, doesn’t see him as a wide player. With how Charlotte operated under CL, this is not necessarily surprising or illogical. Lattanzio prefers quicker wide players who can take players on (think Reyna, Jóźwiak, Gaines, Vargas). Shinyashiki is good, but what he is not is a pacey, tricky winger. The same can be said for Bender.

Thus, we’re really left with Reyna as Jóźwiak’s primary competition for the left side (with reports that his time is over with the club, it’s maybe a bit disingenuous to even include him here). For now, I’m going to ignore Justin’s favorite talking point that Vargas is probably also better on the left. I probably agree with him on this point, but Vargas is so young and has so little data that I don’t think it makes sense to include him in this current discussion (especially since CL insisted he be played on the right this past season).

Anyone who has followed Banks, Beer, and Soccer or The Crown Cast since I’ve joined will know that I am not a Reyna fan. In the proper setup, Reyna can be a good piece, but he’s a moments player who drifts in and out of games. In my opinion, he is most often out of games. He doesn’t run, rarely puts in any defensive effort, and struggles with consistency.

When it comes to Reyna, I am mostly confused to how he became such a fan favorite. People often point to his trickiness and ability to score and/or create scoring opportunities as reasons to why he should be in the side. This supposed ability is simply not there, at least on a consistent basis.

Reyna ended the season with 3 goals and 3 assists. But, Josh, that’s 3 more goals than Jóźwiak! He’s 300% the goalscorer Jóźwiak is! This is true. But what is also true is that those 3 goals came in two games, both of which Charlotte lost. He scored two wonderful goals against Inter Miami and a header versus Chicago in the first minute. What did he do after that in that game?

I will give Reyna his due on his assists. Each of them are lovely balls that are perfectly placed. The ones against Nashville and Columbus are especially beautiful.

Reyna assist versus Nashville, 7/9/22
Reyna assist versus Columbus, 10/5/22

Reyna appeared in 19 games for Charlotte (handy for the Jóźwiak comparison!) and started 10. He totaled 845 minutes and was just under 10 90s (9.4 to be specific). He finished the season with 2.2 xG and 2.2 xGA. So more xG, but less xGA.

He created 36 SCAs and 7 GCAs, which corresponds well to his xG and xGA compared to Kamil (i.e., he creates more goal-scoring chances, but fewer shooting chances). His passing was slightly better percentage-wise than Kamils: 74.9% on the season, 87.1% (115/132) for short passing, 79.4% (81/102) for medium passing, and 55.4% (31/56) for long passing. He put in 4.26 crosses per 90 (40 total).

So far, we honestly have pretty similar players when looking at these 2 when it comes to goalscoring and assisting. What separates Reyna in the minds of many fans, though, is his ability to take people on with the dribble. This isn’t untrue, but this ability is blown way out of proportion. Let’s look at Jóźwiak, Reyna, and Gaines’ possession numbers. I’ve included Gaines as kind of a control player.

Player NameSuccessful Dribbles (per 90)Attempted Dribbles (per 90)Successful Dribble PercentageMiscontrols (per 90)Dispossessed (per 90)
Kamil Jóźwiak17 (1.33)43 (3.36)39.5%27 (2.11)15 (1.17)
Yordy Reyna8 (0.85)36 (3.83)22.2%24 (2.55)23 (2.45)
McKinze Gaines17 (1.43)46 (3.87)37.0%33 (2.77)22 (1.85)

Reyna completed the fewest dribbles, had the lowest successful percentage, and had the most dispossessions. On a per 90 basis, it’s even worse for him. He’s far and away the least successful at dribbles even though he’s attempting them almost as much as Gaines. While Gaines leads this trio in miscontrols per 90, Reyna is far and away the most likely to get dispossessed.

Kamil comes out looking really good in this comparison. He’s the most successful of this trio in terms of percentage, almost as good as Gaines on a per 90 basis, but has far fewer miscontrols and dispossessions on a per 90 basis. Yet I would wager that if you polled 100 Charlotte fans, most would say Reyna is the better dribbler of the two (if not on the entire team).

Reyna doesn’t have a good history of goal contribution to fall back on, especially in recent times. His best season his probably his age 20 season, when he was with Grödig in the Austrian Bundesliga. That season (2014-15), he had 11 goals and 5 assists. His best MLS season is probably 2018 with Vancouver when he was 24. He recorded 6 goals and 9 assists that season. The following season for Vancouver, Reyna had 7 goals and 1 assists. Since that year–3 seasons, 50 appearances, 25 starts, and 2,419 minutes of game time–Reyna has a total of 8 goals and 5 assists. Of course, Reyna’s lack of production is matched, if not surpassed, by Jóźwiak’s. Over the past 3 seasons, Jóźwiak has made 77 appearances, 56 starts, and has 4,795 minutes of game time with just 1 goal and 6 assists to show for it.

So why do I believe in Jóźwiak rather than Reyna? Simply put, age. Jóźwiak is currently 24 while Reyna is 29. We absolutely know what Reyna is while there’s a world where Jóźwiak gets back to his pre-Derby days. For reference, with Lech Poznań, Jóźwiak had 15 goals and 8 assists over 104 appearances (73 starts) and 6,621 minutes of game time. This was during his age 17-22 seasons! I’ll always take younger, talented player over an aging veteran when the production is similar.

Finally, I’ve said it before, but a young player moving countries, learning a new culture and language, at a horribly run club during a global pandemic is not a good gauge of ability. Jóźwiak spent two wasted seasons in England. I won’t assert that his lack of production is 100% the result of these factors, but I don’t think they can be dismissed and shouldn’t be minimized.

I have no idea if Jóźwiak can find the kind of form he had with Lech Poznań again, but the latter half of last season showed there is a useful and talented player in there who is capable of doing so. It’s up to CL and co. to unlock that potential consistently.

Enzo Copetti: Master of Movement

Given Copetti’s jump in form from 2021 to 2022, there will be some wondering how/why this occurred and whether his 2022 goalscoring output will be sustainable going forward.

There are 2 main reasons for this uptick in goalscoring. First, was his positional change.

Under Racing’s previous Head Coach, Juan Antonio Pizzi, Copetti was playing a fairly even share of time in the striker role and on the right wing, which naturally limited the amount of goalscoring opportunities he had. Once Fernando Gago took charge for his first full season in 2022, each game Copetti played was as a number 9, with the exception of one late substitute appearance.

The second comes from the style of play that Gago implemented for the 2022 season. His 4-3-3 system allowed Copetti to be the focal point of a possession based team that looked to create transition-like situations with patient build up and attack mostly in wide areas, something Copetti benefitted from immensely.

Individual Skillset
In many ways, Copetti is a very traditional number 9. Though he may not have raw attributes that stand out in a major way, he is an incredibly clever player who is able to create chances for himself and score goals due in large part to the intelligence he plays with.

Racing vs Tigres July 2022

Something important to note here is the quality of movement from Copetti and the patience to not immediately attack the space at the front post as soon as the ball is in a crossing area. Instead, he times his run perfectly for a first time finish.

The quality of his movement is a huge reason as to why Gago’s approach of attacking from wide areas has been successful.

Racing vs CA Colon October 2022

Notice a similar run from Copetti here to make sure that he receives the ball at the front post whilst on the move, making it easier to turn and shoot than it would be had he received the ball stationary whilst not facing goal.

His quality as a box presence via his movement also makes him a considerable threat in the air. His ability to create space by manipulating the centre halves playing against him gives his teammates great areas to cross the ball into, giving himself a great chance to attack them whilst going towards goal with momentum.

Racing vs CA Central Cordoba July 2022

Again, the beauty in the movement here comes from the patience. It is clear well before the cross comes in that that is the action that will take place. Rather than crashing the box earlier before the cross has been made, Copetti stays a good distance behind and in-between the two central defenders. This serves two main purposes: 1) he is attacking the ball with forward momentum (as stated earlier) and 2) it makes him much more difficult to mark as he maintains that distance behind and equidistant between the defense.

Though great at manipulating defenders, Copetti isn’t beholden to this method of attacking. What makes him such a threat as a #9 is that he is able to make the alternative run based on the shaping of the defense/the space that is being offered to him.

River Plate vs Racing February 2022

Again, Copetti is smartly occupying the equidistant space between the centre halves, the difference in movement this time though comes from him attacking the space left between the goalkeeper and defenders before the cross is delivered. Once the ball is received out wide and Copetti realises the defenders are happy to stay level with him-rather than a few yards off him like in the earlier clip-he gives a quick look to see if the goalkeeper’s positioning is compensating for the space in behind (in this case would mean the goalkeeper being further to his left and at least a couple yards further from his line.) Once Copetti realizes the goalkeeper is not positioned further off his line, he makes his run, triggering the ball to be played into that area by the wide player. This instinct to create chances with his own movement in behind is no fluke.

Lanús vs Racing October 2022

In this instance, the attack is more vertical, but the run itself still takes advantage of an aggressive defensive line and opens up the passing lane where it otherwise wouldn’t be available. With this ability to understand how the defensive line is defending shape-wise, Copetti is able to help his teammates create opportunities for him and at times, be his own best playmaker.

Impact on Charlotte
The first major difference to point out is obviously the change in formation. Racing stuck rigidly to their 4-3-3 shape, whilst Charlotte under Lattanzio experimented with plenty of setups, without many of them even resembling a 4-3-3 setup too closely. Charlotte did play a 4-3-3 more commonly under Miguel Angel Ramirez, although this was with a different role being asked of the centre forward.

Charlotte vs Inter Miami May 2022

With the ball out wide with the full back in a 4-3-3 set up, you can see that instead of looking to get into the box himself, Charlotte centre forward Karol Swiderski is instead looking for the ball on the edge of the box so that he can facilitate the late runs from the wingers/midfielders crashing the box.

This would be the same in build up play. Whether it was playing to the individual’s strength or a function of the system, Swiderski would always be dropping deep as the wingers and/or a midfield player (most notably Ben Bender) would run in attack ahead of him.

In contrast, the lone striker in Christian Lattanzio’s 4-2-3-1/4-1-4-1 systems would actually perform a much more similar role to Copetti’s with Gago’s Racing, despite the change in formation.

Charlotte vs New York City September 2022

Rather than looking to come deep and receive the ball, Daniel Rios makes that run in behind the defense, playing in much more of a ‘poachers’ role as the lone striker.

Charlotte also became much more threatening from open play crosses, which paid off multiple times throughout the 2022 season. These couple of examples are particularly similar to some of the opportunities created for Copetti for Racing.

Charlotte vs Orlando August 2022

Though this goal is scored by right winger McKinze Gaines, you can see how the space he is occupying in the box once the ball is played to him is very similar to the spaces Copetti likes to be in (i.e., in between the space of the two defenders).

Here, again, we see Swiderski occupy this same space for a headed goal from an open play cross.

Charlotte vs Nashville July 2022

Given Daniel Rios’ recent exit from the club, it’s easy to see how Copetti will come in and be a like for like switch, offering Lattanzio exactly what he’s looking for out of his lone striker. With Swiderski now likely in the 10 role in this system going forward, Charlotte will have invested serious money into their middle 2 attacking pair.

If Copetti brings his 2022 form over to Charlotte with him and Swiderski continues where he left off as a playmaker from last season, they should see a strong amount of goals in return on their investment.