When you’re in doubt, it seems that Charlotte is going to get a draw. Match 8 against Colorado Rapids was at home at the Bank and we managed to fumble the 3 points at the very end.
Coach Larranzio made a couple of changes following the 3-1 loss against Real Salt Lake. Joseph Mora made his second start of the season over Jaylin Lindsey in the back line, as Harrison Afful moved to the right-back. Kerwin Varagas was on his normal left-wing side of the pitch while Karol Świderski was pushed back into the midfield. Lastly, Brand Bronico got the start over Ben Bender in the day’s encounter.
There were no changes in the formation with Coach Larranzio sticking with his normal 4-3-3:
The first half for Charlotte was a very typical first half, as Charlotte owned the possession stats (58% to 42%) and completed more accurate passes (196 to the Rapids’ 116). Charlotte was be able to get more shots (9 to 6) but other than that it was a pretty normal 0-0 half for this club.
The second half was a tad bit different for Charlotte. Charlotte got beat from a statistical standpoint, with the possession going to Rapids (53% to 47%). While Charlotte was able to get more total shots (8 to 7), Rapids would get more shots on goal (6 to 3).
The Rapids finally got their breakthrough through the buildup between Yapi, Rubio, and Nicholson. Nicholson took on his defender and split the defense with a ball in the middle towards Max, who would put it away in the back of the net in the 53rd minute.
Charlotte’s breakthrough in the match would come from Afful. Afful gave the ball up to Świderski, who then laid the ball off at the top of the box for Vargas. Vargas was able to slot one into the bottom right corner to bring the game level at 1-1.
Charlotte’s next goal would come from our Polish duo. Świderski crossed the ball from the edge of the box for fellow Pole Jóźwiak, who leaped over his defender to head it in, putting Charlotte up in the 64th Minute of the match.
Just when you think Charlotte had 3 points secured. in the 91st minute, Colorado’s Michael Barrios had an open net to equalize. George Marks rushed out of his goal in what appeared to be a routine stop, but just failed to hold on to the ball.
The match ended in a 2-2 draw.
I don’t think there’s much to be said this week. We were unlucky to get a result that wasn’t in our favor. For 26 minutes we were able to hold them off and all it took was a goalkeeper error for them to equalize. That’s football for you, though, and all it takes is one opportunity for a team to change the result.
Coach Larranzio needs the team to get into that extra gear and get goals in bunches more often, as they did between the first and second goals. It can show dominance in the match.
Charlotte needs to be able to adjust between being able to play counter-attacking and possession-based football. Possession is great, but it hasn’t gotten us many positive results and there is a need to be able to tweak the philosophy. This includes just sitting there, building off of the counter, and letting the ball work for you.
The defense has improved, or at least it did in this matchup. I would like for them not to ball-watch so often. They should be scanning their zones better and communicating more with each other. The first goal was conceded because there was no communication between the defenders, which left gaps for our players to cover and spaces for the Rapids to exploit. It led to a simple cross and tap in.
There’s an interesting–if unsurprising–debate happening online right now about who should be playing for this club currently. Two trends I see:
Enzo can’t play up top alone.
Sobociński should be getting time over Tuiloma.
Both of these ideas confuse me.
First, this team hasn’t scored goals, yet Enzo has 2. Second, and a strong small sample size warning applies here, he’s played about how he should be expected to play. He was a Rios replacement who was supposed to bring the same aspects to the team that Rios did, but better. Well, I’d argue he’s probably meeting that. Here are some indicators for him when compared to other MLS forwards for 2023:
He’s in the 95th percentile for Average Shot Distance, meaning, he’s getting into excellent positions when he shoots.
He’s in the 70th percentile for Shots on Target % and Goals/Shots. He’s only in the 5th percentile for Shots Total, but I don’t think we can blame him for the dysfunction of our attack.
He’s in the 75th percentile for Progressive Passes Received, meaning, he’s consistently making himself available for forward passes from teammates.
He’s in the 75th percentile for Goals-xG, which means he’s outperforming his xG (which is a good thing considering this team’s struggles on the offensive side of the ball).
Are there areas where I’d like to see him improve? Sure. But Enzo is in the mold of a traditional striker. He’s also one that appears to be better in a more transition-based side, whereas CL wants possession.
Enzo hasn’t been perfect, but the frustration with him seems to come from his supposed “antics” (something I disagree with). This subjective anger at “antics” has bled into and created this idea of a “performance” issue. I really am not seeing that. To me he’s often been isolated up top, yet runs his a** off, holds up the ball decently, and seems to take chances when they infrequently come.
The Sobo over Tuiloma argument is even weirder to me. We have allowed a ton of goals this year and we have had numerous errors from defenders that have led to it (Tuiloma’s own goal and his bad back pass, Malanda’s bad back pass, Byrne’s bad back pass). We’ve allowed 4 goals, though. Those defensive errors are important, but they’re not the main reason that we’re allowing so many goals. It’s a team issue.
There is consistently loads of space between lines for opponents to exploit, both in terms of passing and positioning. Charlotte’s backline often has multiple attackers running at it, seemingly unopposed by anyone in the midfield. Our midfield has been porous and it’s coupled with CL’s usage of fullbacks, which allows space in behind. I believe in Sobo’s talent, but he’s not making a meaningful difference in this squad right now. We’re not talking prime van Dijk here. Frankly, I don’t believe he’s better than Tuiloma right now and I don’t think it’s particularly close.
To my eyes, Sobociński has struggled with the Legacy. How is that going to get better at the MLS-level? Sobo is talked about as if he’s this exceedingly young CB. He’s young at only 24, but at 24 Tuiloma was in his 2nd season with Portland and had made 37 total appearances with 30 starts. He made 57 appearances and 43 starts for Portland over the next 2 seasons. Sobociński has made 9 career MLS appearances with just 3 starts.
Yet, Sobo is talked about as if he must be played due to some great potential talent. I would argue Tuiloma is more talented, plus has MLS experience.
In my opinion, the real reason that people are calling for Tuiloma to be replaced has to do with:
We’ve shipped a ton of goals this season, so the correlation equals causation fallacy comes into play and Tuiloma is taking that blame.
His 2 mistakes led directly to goals.
Regarding those 2 errors, as I honestly think that’s what colors the opinion of most people about Tuiloma. Those errors should not be dismissed, but, again, I implore you to look at his process over the results. He did everything right in terms of reading the game and positioning in both of those goals; he failed at the end with his execution. That is a problem! You need a defender that will reliably make the play in the big moments. Determining whether a player is reliable requires more than 6 games. The fact that he is closing in on 100 career MLS starts is more important to me right now than his 6 just with Charlotte.
The bottom line is we’re close to the point of “play the kids” but we’re not there yet. Inter Miami started last year with 7 points through their first 7 games (a draw, 4 consecutive losses, and then 2 wins). We are behind that pace, but not in an inconceivable way. Are we likely to make the playoffs based on current form and history? No. But it’s not quite time to throw in the towel.
Finally, I’m going to continue saying this until I’m blue in the face: Christian Lattanzio is NOT going to play a 4-4-2 or any other variation that puts 2 at the top. The only way this becomes a realistic possibility is if we actually see him do it, and we’ve never seen it. Please, I’m begging Charlotte fans to stop having this conversation. It’s tiring and pointless.
WhoScored Team Rating (SofaScore Team Rating)
5 (14th in the East)
6 (11th in the West)
Shots per game
Shots on target per game
Goals for (xG)
Goals against (xGA)
On the surface, Colorado seems like a poor offensive team, having only scored 3 goals. However, Colorado’s massive underperformance on goals versus their xG has me worried. I’m not saying they are a juggernaut of an offensive that has had severe bad luck, but a gap between actual goals and xG leads me to believe they’ll revert to the mean shortly.
Charlotte, meanwhile, continues to rack up possession numbers that lead to nothing. We continue to be second in the league behind only LA Galaxy in this category.
Lineup and Roster Breakdown
Colorado is sound defensively. They got hammered in the opening game at Seattle by a score of 4-0, but since then haven’t allowed more than 2 goals in a game. In fact, of their 7 games, they’ve allowed 1 goal or fewer 5 times, including 2 shutouts (one over LAFC, which is an impressive feat).
That defensive stability comes from the fact that they’ve started the same goalkeeper (William Yarbrough) and mostly the same 3 CBs–Lalas Abubakar, Andreas Maxsø, and Danny Wilson–the entire season. Abubakar and Maxsø have started all 7 games, while Wilson has appeared in 6 and started 5, including the last 3.
Wingbacks Keegan Rosenberry and Sam Nicholson have both started 6 games, with Nicholson appearing in all 7. Midfielder Connor Ronan has also started all 7 games.
Over the past 3 games, the front 3 has also been relatively unchanged with Jonathan Lewis and Max starting all 3 of the previous games and Diego Rubio starting 2/3.
Other players like Cole Bassett (5 starts), Darren Yapi (6 apps, 4 starts), Bryan Acosta (4 starts), and Michael Barrios (7 apps, 3 starts) have all seen consistent playing time. In all, this is a team that has a pretty clearly defined starting 11, where the most changes come in the attack. It could explain their underperformance on goals but also helps explain their defensive stoutness.
Like Real Salt Lake who we just saw, Colorado only has 1 Designated Player: Maxsø
According to the MLS Availability Report, the Rapids were missing 2 players last week: defender Moise Bombito (left knee) and midfielder Jack Price (Achilles). Price will be a big miss for Colorado. The veteran, who also serves as Colorado’s captain, tore his Achilles on 3/20/23, so he’ll miss the entire season.
Midfielders Cole Bassett (left hamstring) and Braian Galvan (groin) were listed as questionable and neither made the bench.
Of note, Maxsø was forced off last week due to an injury. It’s unclear what his status for our matchup is. He would be a miss for them.
Diego Rubio (Forward, CAM)
Rubio began the year injured, which led to him missing the first few games. He’s recently come back into the side, appearing in 3 games and starting 2. He has one of Colorado’s 3 goals.
Rubio is coming off a career year last year. He’s in his 5th season with Colorado and had 16 goals (4 PKs) and 5 assists last year in 30 appearances (28 starts). This was double the number of goals he had over the previous 2 seasons (8 goals in 42 appearances over the 2020 and 2021 seasons). His first season with Colorado saw him get 11 goals and 4 assists in 26 appearances.
So who is he? To be honest, I’m not sure. Part of this is: how do you define him positionally? Colorado lists him as a forward and FBref has him as a “FW, MF.” In 2021, his percentiles are only compared to other MLS forwards, but in 2022, you can compare him to forwards, CAMs/wingers, or midfielders.
In terms of goalscoring, if he’s a forward, those 2 years (2020, 2021) are concerning. If he’s a CAM, they’re fine. If he’s a forward, last year was good! If he’s a CAM, last year was amazing! His heatmaps don’t help.
These are definitely not the maps of a forward (and his maps are pretty consistent throughout his years). I’m inclined to view him as a CAM, which makes his goal returns excellent, even in the “down” years.
As a CAM, he’s not a great passer. Compared with the “Men’s Next 8” CAMs, his passing is average. He is decent in long passing (70th percentile for long pass completion %) and he’s trying ambitious passes (77th percentile for passes into the final third, 84th percentile for passes into the penalty area, and 79th percentile for progressive passes). And this leads to him shining with goal and shot creation.
These aren’t the best we’ve ever seen, but they do show a player that will consistently cause issues for defenders.
Darren Yapi (Forward)
I’m not sure we should expect Yapi to start, but he’s an interesting and talented young player. He has made 6 appearances this year with 4 starts but hasn’t started a game since 3/18.
Yapi is only 18 and last year only got into 11 games (1 start). He didn’t have a goal or an assist. This year, he’s only gotten 1 assist. Normally, this wouldn’t read like that interesting of a player, however, I think he is for two reasons. First, I always enjoy young players who break into teams, even if it is limited minutes. Second, in all his appearances last year he had 1.9 90s. So far this year, he’s already at 4.6 90s, meaning, Colorado clearly see him as ready to be part of the first team in a major way.
Further, Colorado has only scored 3 goals all year, so the fact that he hasn’t scored doesn’t mean much to me. What does mean a lot is that he’s the team leader in xG at 1.2 (along with 0.7 xGA).
Positionally, he’s all over the place on the front line, but on the right he’s getting further toward the end line by a lot. Due to his overall lack of playing time, I don’t think the percentile ranks are hugely relevant yet. With that said, he does appear to take on people readily (5.56 take-ons attempted/90) and has success with it (2.32 successful take-ons/90). He’s someone who also appears to carry the ball well (20.38 carries/90, 40.29 progressive carry yards/90, 1.08 carries into the penalty area/90).
Even if he doesn’t start, it seems likely he’ll come off the bench when Charlotte has tired legs. He looks like a real prospect.
Brazilian players do names right. Max. Hulk. Fred (even if it is pronounced as “Fredj”).
Max is a 22-year-old winger in his 2nd season with Colorado. Last year he got into 28 games (9 starts), but didn’t score and only had 1 assist. So far this year, he’s gotten into 6 games (4 starts) and still doesn’t have a goal.
He favors the left side of the pitch and doesn’t really get into the penalty area all that much. Considering the positions that Rubio gets into, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
FBref allows him to be compared to midfielders or CAMs/wingers. Based on his heatmap and his position in the starting lineups, I’m going to consider him a CAM/winger.
The shooting numbers are terrible, as you might expect from someone who has yet to score a goal in MLS. The passing and possession numbers, though, are good.
89th percentile for medium passes completed (87th percentile for medium passes attempted)
94th percentile for long passes completed (82nd percentile for long passes attempted)
92nd percentile for passes into the final third
86th percentile for progressive passes
99th percentile for successful take-on % (though only 25th percentile for take-ons attempted)
96the percentile for times tackled during a take-on
94th percentile for dispossessed
He’s not perfect in these categories, obviously. His short passing is oddly poor and he doesn’t carry the ball much or well. However, he is still young and many of these numbers point to someone who has serious attacking potential.
William Yarbrough (GK)
Yarbrough is now in his 4th season with Colorado and has been their #1 since his arrival. Over his 3+ seasons, he’s made 88 starts. He’s been…fine? As with any goalkeeper, the numbers are dependent on a number of factors, but his numbers have been pretty in consistent.
His best season was in 2021 when Colorado finished 1st in the Western Conference and made the conference semifinals. In 2020, they finished 8th in the West, and in 2022 they finished 10th in the West.
I’m not fully confident in making the argument that his performance is a result of the overall team, however, I do think there’s a real argument to be made that he’s not lifting his team. Bad teams allow more goals, so you would expect a goalkeeper to have worse numbers. However, good goalkeepers also help bad teams and I’m not sure I see evidence of that happening either.
The PSxG+/- numbers point to a player who, even in his best year, is just slightly above average, while in bad years (2022) is very bad. His number so far this year is excellent, but he doesn’t have a history of keeping it up. Maybe you could argue that he’s still prime-ish age for a goalkeeper (34), so maybe he’s going to have a career year? I tend to trust history more. I imagine that his PSxG+/- will come down a bit.
Overall, Yarbrough looks like an average keeper to me. In general, if the team is good, he’ll probably play well enough for you to win. If the team is bad, he’ll not do much to help you.
We’re in “must-win” territory now. A home game against a struggling team should be cause for optimism. Like most of you, I don’t feel very optimistic right now.
Colorado has some good players, but there’s not one that jumps out as a “danger man.” Players like Rubio, Yapi, and Max can cause problems to be sure, as can players like Ronan and Abubaker (both of whom I didn’t highlight, but are good players in their own right). If this were late 2022 Charlotte, I’d be exceedingly confident of a win. Right now, I’m wondering if we’ll be able to score.
The biggest question for me is what to do with our midfield. In an ideal world, I’d like to try a Karol-Westy-DJ/Bronico midfield. Swiderski and Bender lacked defensive stability against RSL and I just don’t think you can play both of them in the midfield.
This is what I’m hoping to see on Saturday.
Now, this lineup is based on what I think our availability will look like and, more importantly, what I think is reasonable to expect from Lattanzio. If Westwood is fit, I’d put him in for Bronico. Regardless, I think that this lineup gets the majority of our talent into the side (with Nuno being the glaring exception), while also providing us with the best chance at scoring.
In possession, I’d like to see us set up our midfield/backline with one of these two options:
Have DJ drop between the CBs to give us 3 at the back, if we’re going to push Afful and Lindsey into the middle.
Shift Tuiloma, Malanda, and Lindsey left into a back 3 with Afful and Jones forming a double pivot in the midfield.
My preference is option 2 as I’m not convinced Jaylin has the passing ability I want in the center of the pitch. Don’t get me wrong, he can make some fine passes, but they’re usually not build-up passes.
Vargas and Jóźwiak need to continue to provide width, but I am worried about Vargas’ positioning last game. It was something I noted in-game.
It’s further emphasized by his heatmap from that game:
Kerwin Vargas has no business being that far away from the opposing goal. It’s a waste of his talents. Compare the above map to his previous 3 games (ORL, RBNY, TFC):
Ideally, I want Vargas’ maps to look like the Orlando and Toronto games all the time.
Let’s hope some issues have been ironed out this week, though I’m not confident. This is one of the few times I’m predicting a home loss and probably the only time to a team I don’t consider elite.
Editor’s note: Previews will be a bit different moving forward. Gone is a complete overview of the opposing team, including every player, in favor of spotlighting 3-4 key players. Most, aside from Johs, probably weren’t interested in that much information. For those who enjoyed the old previews, apologies! For those who never read them or had little interest in them, hopefully this new format will be more interesting!
In a vacuum, the draw against Toronto is a really good result. In the real world, the draw against Toronto is still a really good result. So, why do I feel disappointed by it?
I think it’s the manner in which we conceded the goals, especially the first one. Normally, announcers annoy me, but I thought the broadcast team made the correct point that, with the wind the way it was, not having a player on the back post was malfeasance. Perhaps that ball still goes in, but I’d much rather have known we had set up to defend it properly. We were the beneficiaries of an Olympico last year, so there’s no real right to complain, but Jordy didn’t have the benefit of the wind.
Seeing Jóźwiak finally get a goal was wonderful. I’m sure it must feel like a huge weight has been lifted off his shoulders. I hope this is the start of a wave of goal involvement from him.
Kamil has never been as bad as his detractors have said, as he’s consistently added running and defense, along with a little trickiness, to the team. However, he’s also not quite as good as many of his most ardent supporters claim either. At the end of the day, Jóźwiak is a winger. While tracking back on defense and making tackles is all well and good, his primary responsibility is to contribute goals. It’s something he hasn’t done reliably for a few years now. Let’s hope the latter half of last season and this goal are a sign of a newfound goal-contribution reliability.
I also thought he looked pretty good on the right. I’m a longstanding proponent of LW-Jóźwiak-only, but having him on the right does 1) help fill one of the problem positions and 2) allows Vargas to be on the left where he can cut in onto a right-footed shot. If he can continue putting in performances like he did against Toronto from that side, the front 3 is set.
Well, that’s if Copetti doesn’t continue to pick up yellow cards at an alarming rate. He’s currently on 4 yellows; one more will get him a suspension. Part of this accumulation is on Enzo, but I do think he’s picked up at least a couple for…well…I’m not sure why. The RBNY game is a prime example of how I think he’s been officiated a bit differently so far. He gets a yellow for a shoulder charge, but an RBNY player does it in the same spot on the pitch later and only gets a foul.
Enzo right now reminds me of how Granit Xhaka was and can be officiated in the Premier League. Xhaka is another player who skews towards the “hot-headed” end of the spectrum. As a result, Xhaka has often picked up yellows and reds for challenges that others get away with entirely or get away with for far less. Again, some of this is on a player like Xhaka or Enzo; some of it, though, is a reputation that is gained. Players should not be officiated on reputation, though. They should be officiated on what they do. It’s especially alarming that a guy can get a reputation in just a handful of games.
WhoScored Team Rating (SofaScore Team Rating)
5 (14th in the East)
Real Salt Lake
3 (11th in the West)
Shots per game
Shots on target per game
Goals for (xG)
Goals against (xGA)
Real Salt Lake
This should be fun. The moveable object meets the stoppable force! I’ll let you decide who is who.
Neither of these teams is particularly good at getting goals. Charlotte is near the bottom of the league in shots per game and shots on target, though we’re second in the league in terms of possession While Real is middle of the road when it comes to getting shots off, their xG is bottom of the entire league. RSL beat Vancouver Matchday 1, but scored both of their goals within 3 minutes of each other in the 2nd half. They have yet to have a player with the designation of “Forward” on FBref score a goal for them. Their leading goalscorer is a defender with 2.
It’s too early to say that our goals allowed are a function of bad luck, but it should be noted that there is a huge discrepancy already between what would be expected and what we’ve actually given up. Note that while Charlotte and RSL have given up a similar number of goals–11 and 13, respectively–the xGA difference is massive (7.8 xGA for Charlotte; 11.1 xGA for RSL). RSL’s xGA is 2nd worse in the league (0.02 behind Montreal). In the East, teams like Inter Miami and New England both have slightly worse xGA–8.4 and 8.2, respectively–but have allowed far fewer actual goals than Charlotte (7 GA for Inter; 6 GA for NE). The Olympico this past weekend certainly plays a part in this discrepancy, but I’m hoping that our defensive record will improve and return to a number closer to the xGA.
For what it’s worth, last year we ended with an xGA of 44.1 but allowed 52 actual goals. Bad to below-average defensive teams will “outperform” their xGA, but I’m not ready to say we’re a bad defensive team just yet. It’s true we haven’t been good, but there have been a lot of moving pieces and reasons for this.
RSL vs ATX, 3/11/23
RSL vs. STL, 3/25/23
RSL at CLB, 4/1/23
RSL has been playing a 4-2-3-1 until last week. Now, as always, the formation that is listed on MLS’s site could be correct or not. For instance, they had Charlotte in a 4-5-1 last weekend, while Charlotte’s official Twitter had us in a 4-3-3. Go figure. Perhaps it’s incorrect, or perhaps they did switch it up for this past game. If they did switch it up, it didn’t work as they endured a 2nd straight 4-0 loss.
Regardless of the formation, what should be noted about this team is the utter randomness of their personnel. That’s (probably) hyperbole, but if Charlotte fans are complaining about how much CL chops and changes, I can’t imagine how Salt Lake fans feel.
Aside from their center-back Justen Glad and fullback Andrew Brody, I see no other player that has appeared in each of the past 3 games. Indeed, those are the only two players who have started in each of RSL’s games so far this year. There are only a few other players–midfielder Damir Kreilach and forwards Anderson Julio, Carlos Gómez, and Justin Meram–who have appeared in all 5 games.
I won’t hazard a guess as to who we’ll see.
As of last week’s MLS Availability Report, RSL has quite a few issues (which also likely helps explain the myriad of personnel changes discussed above). Forwards Jefferson Savarino and Daniel Musovski were both listed as “Probable” last week with a calf and ankle issue, respectively. However, neither even made the bench. Defender Marcelo Silva was listed as questionable with a hamstring injury and also didn’t make the bench.
Meanwhile, defenders Bryan Ovideo (calf), Zackery Farnsworth (thigh), and Erik Holt (Achilles) were all listed as “Out.” Midfielder Bode Hidalgo and forward Axel Kei (ankle) were listed as “Out.”
Most of these absences aren’t noteworthy, as most of these players are young and haven’t featured yet or often for RSL. Ovideo is a bit of an exception, as he made 3 starts.
The other potential exception is Kei who is FIFTEEN. He signed a professional contract with RSL as a 14-year-old, breaking Freddy Adu’s record. He made his debut in the USL at the age of 13 (and 8 months)! He’s already listed at 6’1″ and 161 lbs, so physically, he has a body capable of competing at this level. I can’t imagine he gets a ton of playing time at the MLS level this year, but who knows? If he’s good enough to get a contract, he might be good enough to break through. He’s more of an interesting name to know for the future rather than for this game.
Jefferson Savarino (LW, RW, CAM)
Savarino is RSL’s only Designated Player. While he has been listed on the injury report and didn’t feature last week, his “Probable” designation leads me to believe he might be back for our game. This tweet seems to confirm that (though I can’t speak to the veracity of the account).
Savarino is a 26-year-old Venezuelan who rejoined RSL last year from Atlético Mineiro in the Brazilian Série A. He began his career with Zulia in the Venezuelan league, before joining RSL in 2017 as a 20-year-old. He spent 3 seasons with RSL before moving to Mineiro in 2020.
In his first stint with RSL, he made 82 appearances and 78 starts, scoring 21 goals and getting 19 assists. With Mineiro, he made 53 appearances and 40 starts, scoring 14 goals and getting 8 assists. Since his return to Salt Lake, he has made 23 appearances and 20 starts, including 19 appearances last year and 4 this year.
He’s a flat-out productive player. Last year in his 19 appearances (17 starts) he got 7 goals and 4 assists. He has an assist this year already. Further, he’s consistent in his production. From 2018-2020, he made 27-32 starts and scored 7 or 8 goals with 5-9 assists each year. In 2017 he made 19 starts for RSL and in 2021 he made 11 starts for Mineiro. He scored 6 goals in 2017 and 5 in 2021, with 5 assists in 2017 and 2 assists in 2021. Basically, if he starts anywhere near 20 games, he’s going to give you double-digit goal contributions. If he’s starting closer to 30 games, he’ll probably mean in the 13-15 goal/assist range.
On top of that, he’ll play anywhere across the front line (though not as a striker).
Savarino 2023 RSL heatmap
Savarino 2022 RSL heatmap
Savarino 2021 Mineiro heatmap
Savarino 2020/21 Mineiro heatmap
Savarino 2019 RSL heatmap
What’s interesting is that Mineiro used him exclusively as a right-sided player. Prior to his departure to Mineiro, RSL used him in the same way. Since his return, though, they’ve been a lot less strict with this. Last year, he’s all over the pitch, while in his brief time this year, he’s been primarily deployed from the left. He clearly has the versatility to play either side or centrally.
Savarino shooting percentiles vs. Next 8 wingers/CAMs over the past 365 daysSavarino SCA/GCA percentiles vs. Next 8 wingers/CAMs over the past 365 days
With his goal-scoring record, I expected him to be a bit higher in these shooting percentiles. What does jump out, though, is his ability from free kicks, as he’s taking a high number as well as creating an insanely high amount of GCAs and SCAs from dead-ball situations.
Savarino passing percentiles vs. Next 8 wingers/CAMs over the past 365 daysSavarino pass type percentiles vs. Next 8 wingers/CAMs over the past 365 daysSavarino possession percentiles vs. Next 8 wingers/CAMs over the past 365 days
Yep, the passing is very good. Ignore the percentage (71.6% and 64th percentile), as the quality is what jumps out. He’s not settling with the ball, but rather making progressive, dangerous passes. The same can be said with his dribbling and carrying ability. Let’s hope he needs another week to recover.
Damir Kreilach (CAM)
The 33-year-old Croat is in his 6th season with RSL, having joined from Union Berlin in 2018. With RSL, Kreilach has made 129 appearances (122 starts), scoring 44 goals and getting 18 assists. His best year, by far, was in 2021 when he made 32 starts, scored 16 goals (0 PKs!), and got 8 assists.
Last year was a lost year for Kreilach due to injury. He made only 5 appearances (3 starts) and scored once. He was injured in April and missed the rest of the season. He’s returned this year to feature in all 5 games and make 4 starts, along with scoring once and getting an assist.
While the 16 goals in 2021 were impressive, it’s a bit out of the ordinary for him. He has 2 other years of double-digit goal scoring: 2018 when he had 12 in his first year with RSL and 2015-16 when he had 12 with Union Berlin. With that said, he still found the back of the net 6 times in 2019 and 8 times in 2020, along with 5 assists across the two seasons. Further, Kreilach isn’t a striker; rather, RSL plays him more as an attacking midfielder.
Kreilach 2021 heatmap
Kreilach 2021 heatmap
At 33 and coming off an injury, who knows what kind of year he’ll have? Based on his history, as long as he’s returned to health I imagine that he’ll be somewhere in the 5-8 goal range with 3-5 assists. With RSL’s struggles, his numbers may be depressed due to a lack of quality around him.
The big danger* with Kreilach is that, while he doesn’t shoot often (47th percentile for shots total at just 2.08 per 90) when he does he’s extremely accurate (99th percentile for shots on target percentage at 58.3%). A corollary to this precision is the fact that when he shoots, he’s doing so from incredibly dangerous positions. His average shot distance is just 13.30 yards away from the goal, which is good for the 96th percentile. Our defenders and midfielders–especially DJ–are going to have to keep an eye on where he is at all times, but especially so when RSL find themselves in our third and around our box.
*Note: due to his injury absence last year, some of his percentiles are probably skewed. He’s being compared with wingers/CAMs from the Next 8 leagues over the past 365 days. Normally I’d be cautious about including these numbers due to his long injury absence, but when looking at his 2021 season, most are similar. For example, he’s in the 95th percentile for shots on target percentage at 52.7% and he’s in the 76th percentile for average shot distance at 15.70 yards out. I’m confident that while the numbers that look at the past year are a bit skewed for him, they still give a good representation of who he is as a player and where and how he presents danger.
Andrew Brody (FB)
While Brody and Glad are the only two players to have started all 5 games, I find Brody to be the more interesting of the two. Specifically, he’s a fullback that has played extensively as both a left-back and right-back. On the year, he’s made 3 starts at RB and 2 at LB.
Last year, in 34 appearances (33 starts), he was mostly deployed as a LB (21 times) but has a significant amount of time on the right side too (6 times as a RB, 5 times as a RM/RW). He has some designations as a WB (4 times) too, but I’m too lazy to look through each to see what side he was on. The point is, this is a guy who is comfortable on either side and RSL is clearly comfortable with that too.
Last year was his best season from a goal-contribution standpoint in MLS as he scored twice and got 4 assists. Now, he is a bit of a late bloomer. Brody didn’t make his MLS debut until he was 25 in 2021. Prior to that, he spent 6 seasons with the Real Monarchs. He made 101 appearances (88 starts) for the Monarchs, scoring 7 times and getting 8 assists. And that record is important, I think.
In the lower division, he was consistently getting a couple of goals a year and anywhere from 2-4 assists. Last year may have been a career year in a sense, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get 1-2 goals and 2-3 assists again this year based on that history.
Brody 2023 heatmap
Brody 2022 heatmap
That’s an overlapping fullback if I’ve ever seen one. Last year’s map is probably influenced by his time as a more attacking wide player (either as a wingback or right-sided midfielder), but he’s clearly a player who likes the touchline.
Brody passing percentiles vs. Next 8 fullbacks over the past 365 daysBrody possession percentiles vs. Next 8 fullbacks over the past 365 daysBrody defensive percentiles vs. Next 8 fullbacks over the past 365 days
So, he’s not in the team for defense. I’d describe him as an above-average offensive fullback. His progressive passing (98th percentile) and passes into the final third (90th percentile) do jump out, as does his carrying ability (97th percentile for progressive carries, 90th percentile for carries into the final third, 86th percentile for carries into the penalty area).
This is meaningful carrying of the ball, too, as he’s only in the 63rd percentile for carries, but in the 93rd percentile for total carrying distance and, more importantly, the 94th percentile for progressive carrying distance. If he improves his overall passing a bit and improves his defense to even below average (rather than just plain bad), he’ll be one of the better fullbacks in the league.
Whichever side he’s on, our wingers need to attack him and the space he’ll leave. My hope is that he’s playing RB again so that Vargas can get in behind him.
Zac MacMath (GK)/Gavin Beavers (GK)
MacMath was RSL’s undisputed #1 last year, as he started all 34 matches. He wasn’t bad either, considering RSL’s overall league position. He allowed 45 goals, had a 73.5% save percentage, and a 1.32 GA90. The PSxG+/- number wasn’t great at -1.9, but that was almost 50% better than Kahlina’s (-3.6).
With all this said, he was benched last week. Perhaps this shouldn’t be too surprising.
MacMath is 31 and last year was his first time as an undisputed #1 since 2014 when he was 22 and with Philadelphia. In fact, with Philadelphia, he made his first starts as a 19-year-old and spent 4 total seasons with the club. He made 102 starts for Philly, but only had a 67.5% save percentage with them, allowing 1.37 goals per 90.
He moved to Colorado for 4 seasons but only got double-digit starts once (17 in 2016). With Colorado, his save percentage (75.0%) and goals allowed per 90 (1.14) were much better, but he also played significantly less. A year stop in Vancouver saw him make just 8 starts. In his first 2 seasons with RSL, he would only make 13 starts.
Basically, until last year, MacMath’s career had been that of a backup. This year in his 4 starts, he allowed 9 goals and had just a 66.67% save percentage. As with any keeper, these stats will be, in part, determined by the defense in front of him. However, with the way the season has started for Real, it’s unsurprising that they would try something different.
In stepped Gavin Beavers. Beavers became the third youngest starting keeper in MLS history at just 17 years old. He allowed 4 goals. The young man must be hoping for better things ahead.
It’ll be curious to see who gets the nod this match. It seems that if you’re willing to start a 17-year-old keeper on the road, you’d be willing to do it at home. Perhaps it was just a wake-up call to MacMath. It does seem too early to throw in the towel on the season (which starting a 17-year-old in goal would seemingly imply).
In the end, Charlotte will be facing either a journeyman keeper or a baby in goal. Charlotte doesn’t often show the ability to test keepers early and often, but this is a game to do it in.
Real Salt Lake is more of a mess than Charlotte right now. Injuries are certainly a part of this club’s struggles in the early season, but so is the talent level. In key positions, they are young or lacking talent. I can’t lie, though, I’d love to see them start a 17-year-old in goal and a 15-year-old up top. It won’t happen against us, but maybe this year? Fingers crossed.
Road games are not Charlotte’s forte, but if there was ever a time to get a road win, it’s this game. In fact, this is as close to a must-win game as you can have with a Western Conference team in April. A draw would be fine (it is important to remember that playoff teams don’t so much win on the road as a draw), but a win would really make our position in the standings feel better.
It looks like Ashley Westwood is set to miss another game. Honestly, I’d really like Lattanzio to run out the exact same lineup he did against Toronto, with the exception of adding Świderski back in for Nuno or Bender. Ben had a great game, so I think it would be unlucky for him to not play.
With that said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brand and Karol back in the lineup in place of Bender and Nuno. I’m not sure that’s fair to either Bender or Nuno, but I’ve been very wrong this entire year about CL’s selections. Maybe I’ll probably be wrong again.
Nuno missed some chances last game, but I’m not convinced he had a bad game. He still had to get into those positions to make those changes. Plus, we can’t clamor for him to start and then reverse that after one start. He needs consistent minutes.
Up front, the trio of Vargas-Copetti-Jóźwiak should start again; I can’t see a reason for them not to. It’s a similar situation in goal and with the backline. Our best 4 defenders right now are Afful-Tuiloma-Malanda-Lindsey. It should continue.
In Match Day 6 away against Toronto FC, we managed to rescue a point after being 2-0 down. We’ve created a bit of momentum with the somewhat positive results of the last three games, including two draws and a win.
Coach Lattanzio made three changes following the draw at home against New York Red Bulls, including McKinze Gaines being benched and Kamil Jóźwiak making the Starting XI on the right wing. At the same time, Kerwin Vargas took over on the left side of the attacking front three. He was joined by Enzo Copetti up top.
In midfield, Ben Bender made a start over the suspended Brandt Bronico. MLS reviewed a tackle Bronico made on Omir Fernandez (RBNY), which led to Bronico facing a game suspension and an undisclosed fine. Jones, Bender, and Nuno Santos would hold down the midfield.
In defense, only one change was made, with Bill Tuiloma making a return from injury over Nathan Byrne. Coach Lattanzio would stay with the 4-3-3 format that got him the draw last week against New York Red Bulls.
The first half was a mess on corners and a cold night in Toronto is not the place to coincide corners. In the 5th min, we conceded an Olympico goal. Four minutes later, we set up an opportunity at Toronto’s goal, with Nuno Santos getting a great chance at goal. Charlotte would have a couple more chances in the forms of an 11th minute cross from Vargas onto the head of Nuno Santos and a free kick from Santos into the inside box (with the header going wide from Enzo Copetti).
The second goal from Toronto came from a 44th minute goal from a corner kick, when Michael Bradley got his head onto it and sent it into the back of the net.
The first half would belong to Toronto FC. They got more shots on target (5) compared to Charlotte (2), as well as having 8 corners in the first half. Of course, 2 of these corners led to goals.
The second half was the changing point for Charlotte FC.
Five minutes into the first half, with buildup on the right side between Jóźwiak and Lindsey, Jóźwiak crossed it into Bender. Bender calmly slotted it away.
The second goal would be in the 70th minute. Vargas received the ball on the edge of the area and sent in a cross for Jóźwiak, who would put one past the keeper.
The second half would ultimately belong to Charlotte. As this season has shown, the second half is where Charlotte seems to change the match’s tempo in their favor. The second half stats show that Charlotte held most of the possession (56%) and had more shots (7 vs Toronto’s 3). Charlotte also had more corners (7 to 2).
The Match ended in a 2-2 draw.
While Nuno had a shot at goal in the ninth minute to equalize, I would’ve preferred him to look to his left side towards Vargas. Vargas had a better opportunity at goal compared with Nuno shooting it from outside the box. This would have taken back the early momentum and given Charlotte a better chance at a full 3 points.
Why do we need to be 2-0 down for there to be any urgency toward getting goals? This is the second straight week we’ve gotten a draw from a winnable opponent. Red Bull and Toronto were, and still are, beatable teams if we could just stop conceding these’s goals early on. It seems it is either the defense being bad in the first half or forwards not playing with a level of urgency. When looking at the last 3 games, it appears we’re better at working under the pressure of defeat.
MotM: This week’s Man of the Match is Kamil Jóźwiak. He had a goal and an assist in his 71 minutes of action.