There's been a number of significant firsts already this season for Charlotte FC:
- First big Designated Player signing (Karol Świderski)
- First match (at D.C. United)
- Record-breaking first home match (vs. LA Galaxy in Week 2)
- First goal (Adam Armour at Atlanta United in Week 3)
- First win (vs. New England Revolution in Week 4)
- First coaching change, parting ways with inaugural head coach Miguel Angel Ramirez, 14 games into the year
In the midst of those milestones, one still eluded the expansion side: a precious victory on the road. But not anymore, as Charlotte defeated Houston Dynamo FC 2-1 at PNC Stadium on Sunday evening, snapping a nine-game road winless run that saw the club start 0W-7L-2D away from Bank of America Stadium.
“Very important [win]. Very important because it’s the first [road win] of our young history, so you create belief,” said interim manager Christian Lattanzio after the match. “That creates belief that we can go away and win.”
The two away points for Charlotte were tied for the fewest in an expansion team’s first nine road games since Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake each had one in 2005. They had scored just six goals on the road and had yet to score more than once in any away match.
All that changed on Sunday, as Andre Shinyashki, who netted the eventual game-winner, became the first Charlotte player to score twice on the road, against a Houston club that’ll soon welcome Mexican captain Hector Herrera into their fray.
“There was a lot of resilience from the boys tonight. It’s very hot out here and for us to get our first road win out here, it took a lot and a strong mentality to get that done,” added 23-year-old midfielder Quinn McNeill, who made his first career MLS start. “Huge three points for us, and we look to go again.”
Since taking over for Ramirez in late May, Lattanzio has helped Charlotte pick up seven points from five matches (2W-2L-1D). For the newcomers, who often talk about a long-term vision, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing – as expected for any expansion side. But the victory over Houston serves as a reminder and stems further belief progress is being made.
Charlotte had dropped their previous two outings heading into Sunday’s game – at home to Austin FC and away to CF Montréal. The win could be just the spark and morale boost Lattanzio’s side needs as they hover around the Audi MLS Cup Playoff race.
“This is a group capable of many things and this is a group developing nicely. We’ll have more from them I think,” said Lattanzio. “I’m very proud of my team, this team, because it’s a team that showed that they can play and succeed in different ways. When they have to play, they play, and when they have to defend and suffer for each other, they do that as well.”
Strong home form
Charlotte have picked up 23 points from 19 matches this season, trailing the New England Revolution by just two points for the seventh-and-final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 15 games remaining.
Their strong home form (6W-3L-0D), in front of roughly 30,000 fans a night, has kept their postseason hopes alive. And while the club’s long-term vision remains the priority, if they continue to pick up points on the road through the second half of the year, the playoff chatter should continue to ramp up.
Up next, Charlotte return home to face Nashville SC next Saturday (7 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes) as they look to build on the milestone.