Charlotte FC has 10 ties on MLS season

Should Charlotte FC come up short of making the playoffs in its second MLS season, last week was one that fans might want to bookmark.

The Queen City side played well enough in matches last Wednesday and Saturday to earn six points. Instead, Charlotte got two.

So going into a break in the schedule for international competition this weekend and early next week, Charlotte (7-9-10) sits 11th in the MLS East standings, two points behind DC United, which is in the ninth and final playoff spot; and four points in back of eighth-place Montreal.

Eight matches remain.

Charlotte’s 10 ties are tied for second-most in the league.

In last Wednesday’s 1-1 home draw with Orlando, Charlotte scored late in the second half but yielded a goal in the final minute of regulation.

Afterwards, Charlotte’s Brandt Bronico noted that last year, the team sometimes tied matches that it easily could have lost — but this year is getting draws in matches it could have won.

Saturday’s was such a case.

The Queen City side broke a scoreless tie with a goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time — only to have Nashville earn a tie on a penalty kick on the match’s final play.

“I think everybody watching the game realizes we should have had three points,” said midfielder Scott Arfield, who scored Charlotte’s only goal.

“It’s the best we’ve played since I arrived here,” added Arfield, who joined the Charlotte team from the Scottish Premier League in early summer.

As is fitting with a tie, there was good and bad in Charlotte’s performance, and coach Christian Lattanzio saw both.

“On one hand, we were very disappointed with the outcome of the game, but very proud of a team that came and dominated the game,” he said.

“We deserved to win,” Lattanzio added, “and the other coach (Nashville’s Gary Smith) said the same.”

Charlotte FC dominated play, especially in the second half, but the Queen City side never seemed able to close out the plays.

Brandt Bronico raced in on goal in the 71st minute and took a pass from Arfield, but Bronico’s shot went high. Justin Meram had a shot minutes later, but his effort went straight at Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis.

Lattanzio described Nashville’s strikers as “ruthless” in their efforts to score.

“We need to be the same,” he said. “We need to translate some of those opportunities into goals.”

Arfield’s goal in stoppage time came on an assist from Adilson Malanda.

Then in the 99th minute, Nashville sent a long desperation shot toward goal. Charlotte defender Nathan Byrne collided with Nashville’s Lukas MacNaughton, and the referee called a penalty.

Nashville sharpshooter Hany Mukhtar converted on the kick for the tie.

While saying that the penalty call might have been a “bit soft,” Lattanzio wasn’t arguing the call afterward.

“We should manage the situation better,” he said. “We should have prepared for it.”

Lattanzio said he is giving the players several days off this week, and then the team will resume practice before the weekend. Charlotte resumes play Sept. 16 at home against DC United.

Arfield said he thinks Charlotte is moving in the right direction and added that he’s optimistic about the finish.

“If we keep the cohesion and chemistry in the final eight games, we’ll get to where we want to be,” he said.

Steve Lyttle on Twitter: @slyttle


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