Stingy Charlotte wants to keep goal-poor Orlando City in check

June 2, 2024; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Charlotte FC goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina (1) watches Atlanta United during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Photo Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Charlotte FC has five consecutive home games without conceding a goal before its next match against Orlando City SC, which has not been very successful offensively this season.

Wednesday night's game is another chance for Charlotte to climb further up the Eastern Conference standings against an Orlando team that has scored 17 goals in 17 games.

Charlotte (8-6-4, 28 points) is 5-1-2 since the beginning of May.

“Now all eyes are on Orlando and how we can try to beat them,” Charlotte coach Dean Smith said.

Goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina has kept eight clean sheets for Charlotte this season.

At Orlando (4-8-5, 17 points), the goaltending situation is less stable, as Mason Stajduhar is stepping in for Pedro Gallese, who is traveling with the Peruvian national team.

But Orlando City coach Oscar Pareja said his club had the upper hand for much of Saturday's 3-1 loss to Los Angeles FC, even though his team's streak now stands at four games without a win (0-3-1).

“We put all our energy into it and we outperformed them, but obviously that's not enough,” Pareja said. “In this industry, we have to win games and you win games by scoring goals and that's not happening.”

Charlotte was able to develop strong attacking sequences, but did not always put the goalkeepers to the test as much as was necessary.

“I think we created some good chances,” Smith said, referring to last weekend's 1-0 win over DC United. “I think our execution wasn't that good.”

Midfielder Junior Urso is new to Charlotte after spending more than four seasons with Orlando, and that could benefit Charlotte on Wednesday night.

“It helps,” Smith said. “Little glimpses of information can be helpful. The fact that Junior knows a lot about her will certainly help us too.”

Urso started six of his twelve games with Charlotte.

Kerwin Vargas scored Charlotte's lone goal against DC United on Saturday, ending a six-game scoreless streak.

When Orlando City lost to Los Angeles, Martin Ojeda scored the only goal. Last year, Ojeda scored in both games against Charlotte, although Orlando City went 0-1-1 in those meetings.

This year has produced few highlights for Orlando City so far.

“We need to analyse what is happening on the pitch more thoroughly,” said Pareja. “But again, that is not enough at the moment. We need to win games and that is not happening to us.”

–Field level media

Anna Harden

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