Now, if anyone thinks the visitors can't secure an upset victory when visiting the 2022 Concacaf Champions League winners, manager Miguel Angel Ramirez would like a word.
“I’m not taking a plane 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 go always for three points. And if not I don’t make (this) my job.”
That’s not a shot at Seattle, whose quality Ramirez repeatedly lauded, so much as a challenge for the expansion side to make inroads away from Bank of America Stadium. They're 5W-2L-0D at home and have taken just one point away from North Carolina, a 0-0 draw at the Colorado Rapids in late April.
Plus, Ramirez was encouraged by Wednesday’s 3-1 defeat at the New York Red Bulls in the US Open Cup's Round of 16, a knockout-tournament contest that was available until Tom Barlow’s stoppage-time insurance goal. It brought a level of competitiveness the Spaniard has been waiting for beyond their home turf.
“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.”
Ramirez said it’s unclear how much he might rotate his squad after the midweek travels, but that he would field as strong a team as he felt prudent.
His options are already a bit limited. Striker and team-leading scorer Karol Swiderski is away with the Polish national team. Winger Yordy Reyna remains out with a thigh issue. Defenders Christian Makoun (thigh) and Harrison Afful (lower leg) both appeared as questionable on the team's injury report after playing Wednesday, but Ramirez believes they'll be available.
Now, Charlotte will look to join them in the their first match on the West Coast. The Crown, like others, will enter the June international break soon after.
“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.”