As always, Miguel Ángel Ramírez was in an expressive mood following Charlotte FC’s 1-0 victory over Atlanta United on Sunday.
Who can blame him? The Spaniard had just seen his team beat their rivals 1-0 to earn their third home win of the season, not bad for a team ruled out by most just over a month ago and whose head coach had to deal with your quotes. out of context and used against him.
“At no time did I think we were going to lose. We can compete and win against giants,” Ramirez said after Sunday’s game, adding, “They invited us to the dance and we didn’t dance so badly.”
Ramírez is right; Charlotte FC doesn’t dance too bad. Major League Soccer’s newest team turned heads with its fluidity of possession and ability to build attacks from back to front.
But Sunday was a different kind of game. The Crown had to hold their own against an expensively assembled Atlanta United team; 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 her opponents and relied on resolute defense. And there was a bit of luck in the winning goal – which came after 11 minutes – with Jordy Alcivar firing an ‘Olimpico’ straight into the net from a corner.
“This is the magic of soccer. There is a difference of 80 million dollars between [the] Atlanta United and Charlotte FC teams,” Ramírez said. “That’s why we love football. Because anyone can beat anyone.”
Speaking after the match, goalscorer Alcivar insisted there wasn’t really as much fortune in the winner as it seemed at first, with the Ecuador international revealing that he had been working those kinds of corners.
“The truth is that I was practicing a lot this week with Ben Bender. I think I practiced it enough that I could do it today,” he said.
Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan claimed the ball got “caught in the wind” but credited Alcivar for the attempt.
“They took it well. [It] I got caught in the wind,” he said. “He caught me in the front foot and went into the top corner. The way to defend corners is zonal. It is not uncommon for teams to set and surround the goalkeeper. He just got caught up in the wind and took off, sailed into the top corner.”
Charlotte will celebrate this first win over their southern rivals all week, but staff and supporters alike know that tougher times lie ahead. The North Carolina team now faces three consecutive MLS away trips, stretching to four if their US Open Cup trip to the Greenville Triumph is included.
Charlotte has lost all three of its away games so far, and Ramirez is less than impressed with the odd game format in MLS.
“I am not one to give lessons to the MLS; it’s inexplicable to have three away games and have three home games,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s the most ideal for the competition, that’s how I feel personally. As you know, sometimes another interest is not related to sports.”
However, as long as Charlotte FC continues to dance their own dance, they stand a chance against any team in MLS.