MATCH PREVIEW: Charlotte FC vs. D.C. United

by | Feb 26, 2022 | MLS

By Jaden Dakwa – LA Soccer Press

Charlotte FC will play its first ever match in Major League Soccer and kickstart its inaugural season at Audi Field in the 2022 season opener against D.C. United. During the club’s inaugural preseason, the team was only able to secure one win out of five matches. Charlotte FC will be looking to get a good result and start the season on the right track. D.C. United will be coming into the match as favorites after a season in which they narrowly missed out on making the playoffs by one point. D.C. United head coach Hernan Losada was able to make vast improvements with the squad in his first season and will be looking to produce even better results this season.

Venue: Audi Field – Washington, D.C. 
Date: Saturday, Feb. 26 – 6PM ET
How to Watch: ESPN+

Mint City Collective Report

On Feb. 10, Charlotte FC head coach Miguel Angel Ramirez expressed his concerns as the season was approaching with an incomplete squad in his eyes. Ramirez claimed “we are screwed” in his press conference that day, but some of those fears may have been alleviated in the last couple of days. The club has sealed a trade to sign attacker Daniel Rios from Nashville SC for $500,000 in general allocation money. Ramirez has been interested in signing more strikers and wingers to complete his attack. Within the waning days of the preseason there has been increased optimism around the pieces the team currently does have. There have been encouraging signs in training according to Ramirez. He claimed to have noticed a “special energy” in his team with the season opener around the corner.

“They [the players] are so happy, so happy,” Ramirez said. “They are super excited; they are really looking forward to the game. You feel the energy in trainings, you feel a special energy, that is the competition.”

Charlotte FC Team News

Charlotte FC will likely opt for a back four with Anton Walkes likely to be out of the match with a hamstring injury. … The back four could be composed of Jaylin Lindsey, Guzman Corujo, Christian Makoun, and Joseph Mora. … Ramirez may set up with a 4-3-3 formation due to the players he is currently available. He could stay away from playing two strikers with Karol Swiderski currently in Poland working on trying to secure a visa. The club is hoping he is able to return in time for the match on Saturday.

Charlotte FC’s Predicted Starting Lineup: Khalina (GK); Mora, Corujo, Makoun, Lindsey, Ruiz, Alcivar, Franco, Reyna, Ortiz, Gaines

Screaming Eagles Report

In Hernan Losada’s second season, he will be looking to expand on the principles developed in his first year. A firm believer in building a dynamic play style off and on the ball, Losada usually relies on a back three with versatile wing backs that are able to defend and attack. The team has strengthened its attack with the addition of Ecuadorian international Michael Estrada and Greek international Taxiachris Fountas. Fountas will join in the middle of the summer after his contract expires with Austrian giants Rapid Vienna. An excellent defense featuring Bill Hamid in net, Steven Birnbaum, Andy Najar, and Donovan Pines provides a good base for the team. Julian Gressel has been the team’s main playmaker from the right wing back position and provided 13 assists last season. Losada is excited about the season ahead with a young core of players developing as well such as Griffin Yow, Moses Nyeman, and Donovan Pines.

“We came one point short of the playoffs last season, but on the other hand I felt we had a positive year with a lot of the growth in the young players and new players,” Losada said. “To be successful in the MLS you need to have a deep roster and we are trying to get our numbers there.”

D.C. United Team News

D.C. United should turn to their preferred back three for the opening match and large stretches of the season. Donovan Pines, Steve Birnbaum, and Andy Najar will likely start on Saturday. Brad Smith and Julian Gressel should occupy the wingback positions. Moses Nyeman could get a start after the departure of Junior Moreno. Moreno’s rights were traded to FC Cincinnati for up to $425,000 in general allocation money. Michael Estrada and Ola Kamara could both receive starts as a strike partnership on Saturday.

D.C United Predicted Starting Lineup: Hamid (GK); Pines, Birnbaum, Najar, Gressel, Smith, Canouse, Nyeman, Flores, Kamara, Estrada

Betting Odds (via Yahoo! Sportsbook):
Charlotte FC: +450
D.C. United: -170
Draw: +310