Charlotte FC faces the Seattle Sounders in week 14 of the 2022 Major League Soccer campaign, and the Eastern Conference side is determined to make the trip count.
Head coach Miguel Angel Ramirez admitted the expansion team will not be intimidated by the 2022 Concacaf Champions League winners, but instead wants a fight for the three points.
“I’m not taking a plane for almost six hours to just fight for a point,” Ramirez said during a Friday press conference.
“If I go there, it’s because I want the three points. If not, I stay here. I never wake up in the morning thinking maybe on Sunday we get a point. I don’t have this mentality. I always go for three points. And if not I don’t make my job.”
And after their mid-week US Open Cup victory against the New York Red Bulls, Charlotte FC’s confidence remains high. The team knocked out their opponent in the competition’s Round of 16, cementing themselves as a true contender.
Ramirez even revealed he saw a side to Charlotte he had not experienced prior.
“I told them in the halftime talk that we were making this step against Red Bull,” he said.
“We were competing much, much, much, much, much better in that game than in any game before. Also because of the difficulty of the game. For me, it was the most difficult game away that we have until now. So the response was really, really positive. They made that step.
“So of course I want now the consistency of this response. I want another step. And another step as individual players and as a team and myself as a coach, to get now a better result, a more positive result for us. Not only how we are competing, but of course to get a good result we need to compete well. If not, there’s no chance.”
But despite recent victories and an elevated morale, the feat will not be easy. The team will face the Western Conference giants without key players, including Karol Swiderski, who is currently with Poland on international duty, and an injured Yordy Reyna. Defenders Christian Makoun and Harrison Afful are also both questionable for the match after suffering thigh and lower leg injuries, respectively.
Though the Seattle Sounders currently sit in 12th place on the table, their position can be deceiving and Ramirez knows the team cannot depend on past laurels to get past MLS giants.
“They have a formation that they, a system that they use to repeat but from this formation, from this system they have a lot of mobility and different behaviors in the three different lines,” Ramirez said of Seattle.
“Then there’s the individual quality that they have to unbalance and to make the difference in every line. So it will be very, very different from the last game defending and attacking. So again, you need to understand what we need to do to be effective defending and what are the ways, what are the spaces that we can take to be able to take chances.”