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Charlotte FC Redeem U.S. Open Cup Loss, Crown Red Bulls, 2-0

photo by Matt Kremkau

Two stoppage-time goals in each half by Ben Bender and Derrick Jones gave Charlotte FC all they needed to exact revenge for their loss in the U.S. Open Cup, defeating the New York Red Bulls, 2-0.

The Red Bulls were looking to continue their good form on the road against Charlotte FC after a well-deserved break after regular-season play. The latter was looking to move on from the Miguel Angel Ramirez era with the interim head coach, Christian Lattanzio, now at the helm. 

Defender and captain Aaron Long were away on international duty, and midfielder Cristian Casseres Jr. was sidelined due to health and safety protocol; the Red Bulls were slightly shorthanded. So, they signed defender Juan Castillio on a short-term loan from New York Red Bulls II to shore up the roster in the meantime.

The Red Bulls began to press the hosts immediately after kickoff, holding them at their own defensive end. However, despite multiple chances, Charlotte easily withstood the initial onslaught unscathed to head Coach Gehrad Struber's frustration.

Red Bulls nearly had a chance to go ahead in the 43rd minute when Charlotte defenders Harrison Afful and Guzman Corujo collided trying to clear the ball, where Lewis Morgan took it and charged toward the net on a break.

However, goalkeeper Kristjian Kahlina made the initial save but could not secure the ball as Patryk Klimala rushed in for the loose rebound. Still, Kahlina somehow secured the ball just in time but got kicked in the head during the collision. Fortunately for Klimala, he escaped the incident with a yellow card from the official.

With the game-time temperatures But Charlotte was able to score the game's first goal four minutes into stoppage time when Ben Bender took a shot just outside the box, which deflected off the back of Tom Edwards. Carlos Coronel watched helplessly as the ball nestled into the back of the net.

The first half ended frustratingly for the visitors. Poor play, uncharismatic mental mistakes, and childish disciplinary issues put them behind a goal and apparently searching for answers for the second half.

Red Bulls thought they had an opportunity in the 58th minute. The much-maligned forward Ashley Fletcher seemed to draw a penalty when he was brought down in the box by defender Guzman Corujo. However, after further review from the replay official, the call was overturned for Fletcher and the Red Bulls, and the opportunity was taken away.

Charlotte was able to finally score their second goal in stoppage time once again as Sergio Ruiz danced around the tired legs of the Red Bulls defenders and selflessly dished the ball over to Derrick Jones, who did the rest, calmly tapping home the ball in very close range to seal the victory, setting off a delirious celebration along with their supporters.


For Gerhard Struber and his team, plain and simple, this would not be their day. Despite being embroiled in controversy by firing their head coach, even without their main stars, Charlotte FC is an excellent team at home. With the win, they've leapfrogged themselves into sixth place in a very crowded Eastern Conference table. 

For the Red Bulls, it's back to the drawing board as they try to figure out how to regain their potent sharpness when they have the ball, especially in the final third. Something that needs to be addressed as the season wears on. Like life, soccer is a game of opportunities. When you don't capitalize, you don't win. And leaving points on the table (by not scoring goals) scoring can reduce a season to shambles.

Hopefully, the answer can be found during the summer transfer window. With the newly appointed Head of Sport Jochen Schneider coming on board, the supporters hope that answer comes sooner rather than later.


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