Charlotte FC

Charlotte FC show 'magic of football' as they 'dance' to victory over Atlanta United

Chris Smith
Ramirez guided Charlotte FC to another home victory.
Ramirez guided Charlotte FC to another home victory. / Griffin Zetterberg-USA TODAY Sports

As he so often is, Miguel Angel Ramirez was in an expressive mood following Charlotte FC's 1-0 win over Atlanta United on Sunday.

Who can blame him? The Spaniard had just watched his team beat their rivals 1-0 to pick up their third home win of the season - not bad for a team written off by most just over a month ago and whose head coach had to deal with his quotes being taken out of context and used against him.

"Not at any moment did I think we were going to lose. We can compete and win against giants," Ramirez said after Sunday's match, adding: "They invited us to the dance, and we don't dance that bad."

Ramirez has a point; Charlotte FC don't dance that bad at all. Major League Soccer's newest team have caught the eye with their fluidity in possession and ability to build attacks from back to front.

But Sunday was a different sort of game. The Crown had to dig in a little in the face of an expensively assembled Atlanta United squad - even in the absence of Josef Martinez and Luiz Araujo, Argentine duo Thiago Almada and Marcelino Moreno's transfer fees are the envy of any MLS team.

For once, Charlotte conceded more possession to their opponents and relied on resolute defending. And there was a hint of fortune about the winning goal - which came after just 11 minutes - with Jordy Alcivar firing an 'Olimpico' straight in the net from a corner.

"This is the magic of football. There's a difference of $80m between [the] Atlanta United and Charlotte FC squads," Ramirez said. "This is why we love football. Because anyone can beat anyone."

Speaking after the match, goalscorer Alcivar insisted there actually wasn't as much fortune about the winner as it first seemed, with the Ecuador international revealing he'd been working on those sorts of corners.

“The truth is I was practicing a lot this week with Ben Bender. I think I practiced it enough to be able to do it today," he said.

Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan claimed the ball got 'caught in the wind' but gave credit to Alcivar for the attempt.

“They took it well. [It] got caught in the wind," he said. "I got caught on the front foot and it went in the top corner. The way we defend corners is zonal. It’s not unheard of for teams to put in and around the goalkeeper. It just got caught in the wind and took off, sailed into the top corner.”

Charlotte will celebrate this first victory over their southern rivals long into the week, but staff and supporters alike know there are tougher times ahead. The North Carolina side now face three consecutive away trips in MLS play, extended to four if you include their US Open Cup trip to the Greenville Triumph.

Charlotte have lost all three of their games on the road so far, and Ramirez is less than impressed at the strange fixture format in MLS.

“I am not one to give lessons to MLS; it’s unexplainable to have three games away and have three games at home," he said. "I don’t know if it’s what’s most ideal for the competition, that’s how I feel personally. As you know, sometimes another interest isn’t sports-related.”

Nevertheless, as long as Charlotte FC keep dancing their own dance, they'll have a chance against any team in MLS.