Charlotte FC

McKinze Gaines declares Charlotte FC 'a Playoff team' as players adjust to Lattanzio methods

Chris Smith
Gaines is optimistic about Charlotte FC's chances this season.
Gaines is optimistic about Charlotte FC's chances this season. / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Charlotte FC winger McKinze Gaines believes there's 'no reason' why the team cannot occupy a Playoff spot by the end of the MLS regular season.

The expansion team currently sit seventh in the Eastern Conference, just above the Playoff line with 19 points from 15 games.

CLTFC's positioning owes to their excellent home form, with the Crown winning six of their eight matches at Bank of America Stadium, compared to taking just a single point from seven road games.

Speaking to reporters at a midweek press conference ahead of Saturday's trip to the Columbus Crew, Gaines is confident Charlotte can maintain their post-season spot, provided they start 'snatching' a few results away from home.

“We look at the table and I think we are sitting seventh in the East right now and that’s never having won a game away," he said. "I think that gives us extra motivation to say hey if we keep winning these games at home and we snatch a few on the road there is no reason why we can’t be sitting comfortably in a playoff spot whenever the season ends.

“I think this team has quickly established itself as a team that is very tough to beat. You saw that on the weekend against the Red Bulls. So yeah, we are fighting for the playoffs, we are pushing forward, and we think it’s very obtainable.”

How have Charlotte FC responded to Christian Lattanzio?

Lattanzio won his first game as interim head coach.
Lattanzio won his first game as interim head coach. / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Whether or not Charlotte improve their away form and cement their Playoff spot will depend largely on how the players respond to the methods of interim head coach Christian Lattanzio.

The Italian took over from recently-sacked head coach Miguel Angel Ramirez and won his first game in charge 2-0 against the New York Red Bulls last week.

Gaines has noted an increased 'intensity' in Lattanzio's training sessions in comparison to Ramirez and even labeled the interim boss as 'one of the most influential assistant coaches' he's worked with - even before stepping into his current role.

“Every training now is done with a different intensity. Guys are out there fighting, not only to play but fight for positions. Obviously, new coaches bring new opinions. But I think every training so far since Christian has been appointed has been led with a different intensity," said Gaines.

“He’s actually been probably one of the most influential assistant coaches that I’ve had so far as a professional. He’s always not only pulling me but other players aside in the team. He’s shown me areas of my game that I can work on.

“Whether it’s to go past a guy and beat him and to get a cross in or to pull it back and to get a cross with my left foot, which I’ve probably never done in my career, but he’s shown me it’s a possibility and something that I can work on.

“He’s been great. I think he’s not only helped myself to develop but also other people on the team.”

Yael Averbuch West welcomed USMNT and Nashville SC Designated Player Walker Zimmerman for the latest episode of 90min's Football Americana. As the World Cup fast approaches, the defender revealed what's going on behind the scenes at recent USMNT camps - ahead of matches against Wales and England in Qatar. Zimmerman also spoke on the revolutionary CBA agreed upon by the US national teams and US Soccer, giving the USMNT’s side and perspective as the historic procedure went down. Subscribe to the series here.