Just over a month ago, Charlotte FC head coach Miguel Angel Ramirez made headlines when saying the expansion club was “screwed” heading into their inaugural MLS season.
Now preparing for a Week 3 test at Atlanta United’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday (4:30 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes), and still searching for their first win, does the Spaniard regret his candid remarks?
Not one bit, Ramirez said two days before facing the same club they dethroned as the owner of MLS’s standalone attendance record after 74,479 fans took in last weekend’s 1-0 home debut loss to the LA Galaxy.
“No, not at all. If anything, it was the opposite,” Ramirez said. “The team came to me and asked, ‘How can we help? What do you need from us? We will do it. If we can help you, we are all in this together.’ Also, to see how the club can help give us more resources to get better. No one felt uncomfortable because they knew I wasn’t just speaking for myself but everyone, for them and me. Now we are seeing what we need to compete in a competitive team. This was a sentiment of everyone, and they all understood that is what we wanted.”
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Over the last four weeks, Charlotte FC sporting director Zoran Krneta has added roster pieces to augment the Queen City side’s lofty ambitions. Two MLS-experienced players arrived via trades, as midfielder Derrick Jones (from Houston Dynamo FC) and striker Daniel Rios (from Nashville SC) were acquired for what could reach a combined $750,000 in General Allocation Money.
Then came Friday’s acquisition of Polish international winger Kamil Jozwiak from Derby County of the English Championship, joining striker Karol Swiderski as a Designated Player. Aside from those compatriots, Ecuadorian international midfielder Jordy Alcivar is a Young DP. If club brass desires, both Jozwiak (23 years old) and Alcivar (22 years old) can be bought down from DP status over the next several transfer windows.
The jury’s still out on whether those pieces will be enough, with Ramirez’s pressure-packed comments indicating that he desired more top-end players to make Charlotte FC’s MLS entrance a successful one.
“I know it wasn’t good; I am a very passionate person,” Ramirez said. “Sometimes I try to stay calm and have accomplished that over the years, but when I see something I know needs to change, I will say it. I will not stay shut; it’s the same as when I had comments on the war and the injustice, which need to be improved. I will not stay shut; I will say it.
“Never is it personal against anyone, but to make sure things improve. I also do it internally, at all levels; I do it with the academy, communications, anything I can do to help, I will say it. Anything I know can help; I will not keep it to myself. Everything I do is for the betterment of the club.”
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With clear intentions, Charlotte’s mission now becomes scoring a goal and earning their first point. D.C. United and LA have shut them out, and Swiderski’s only played 73 minutes as the entire final-third group comes together.
“Sometimes the lie and the truth of football is that sometimes you don’t train [attacking] at all and you score five goals in the week. This is the truth of the game,” Ramirez said. “‘Forget, we don’t train attacking anymore’ and then… 5-0 we win. The game is like that. But we are working on it and hopefully we can score the first goal now in Atlanta.”
Getting a result at Atlanta would be especially sweet, Ramirez said. There’s the possibility of a genuine Southeast rival between the Eastern Conference clubs, one that extends on and off the field.
“I was the first to talk about it to my players,” Ramirez stated. “I said, ‘I want my first win against Atlanta in Atlanta’s house’. I said to them that never will it motivate me more than to have our first win in Atlanta’s house.”