Charlotte FC

Charlotte FC interim boss Christian Latanzio looks ahead to five-game 'mini-season'

Chris Smith
CLTFC have five games to make the Playoffs.
CLTFC have five games to make the Playoffs. / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

They're out of form and struggling for goals, but Charlotte FC aren't giving up on the MLS Cup Playoffs just yet.

The 2022 expansion team have been left 12th in the Eastern Conference and seven points adrift of the top seven following a run of seven defeats from their last nine MLS matches, scoring just 11 goals during that time. Only five games to try and salvage Playoff status in their inaugural season.

“Our goal this week is to make sure that we are fresh and ready to go because I don’t want to think that we are just at the end of the season, but rather almost as a new season starts," Lattanzio told reporters on Thursday. "It’s a season of five games, and we need to be competing at our best in those five games."

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One thing sitting in Charlotte's favor is the fact that three of those remaining games are at Bank of America Stadium.

CLTFC boast the fifth-best home record in the Eastern Conference, with 24 of their 32 points coming on their own patch. Nothing less than maximum points will do from their final three home games, starting this weekend against NYCFC.

“I want the team to be alive, everybody thinks that we are not, that we are out but we are not. The guys trained with passion and intensity this week and we want to show this to our fans on Saturday," said Lattanzio.

Charlotte will be further emboldened by the fact that NYCFC aren't exactly motoring long themselves. The defending champions head to North Carolina on a run of just five points from their last nine matches, losing six times during that stretch. It's been a story of utter collapse since the departures of head coach Ronny Deila and MLS Golden Boot holder Taty Castellanos.

What's more, Charlotte's last MLS victory came in the form of a 3-1 away from home at NYCFC in mid-August.

Even so, NYCFC are still, indeed, defending champions and Lattanzio will not be underestimating them.

“They are the champions. So first and foremost, we need to respect them, like respect every team, but even more so the champions, because even last year, it looked like they were not close to winning it all and in the end, they found the strength and found a way to do it," Lattanzio said of Nick Cushing's side.

“So, we need to look at them as a dangerous team with many, many good players, some that I know really well and so I know how good they are, and how dangerous they can be. We need to be very focused on our game, to be really determined, and to be ready to run hard and with intensity for 90 minutes and plus.”