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SOCCER: JUN 03 MLS - Columbus Crew vs Charlotte FC

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Charlotte FC entered this week in the best spot they had been all season in the table. The squad had won five of six in MLS contests despite being one of the more banged up teams in the league and having one of the more grueling schedules in the league in the past month. On Saturday night, the fatigue and injuries seemed to catch up to them, as they put together one of their worst defensive performances of the year in a 4-2 loss to Columbus Crew.

The Crown entered the night with a chance to sweep a season series for just the second time in club history after winning the April 22nd affair at home 1-0. Instead, it was a dominant showing from the Crew that has dropped Charlotte FC right back to the playoff line in the Eastern Conference.

Columbus buried three goals on twelve shots in the first half, the most allowed by Charlotte FC in a half this season. Christian Ramirez struck first, just five minutes in off an error by the Charlotte back line. That set the stage for Maximilian Arfsten’s 21st minute strike to make it 2-0. Justin Meram would get one back momentarily for the Crown in the 25th minute, but he was deemed to be offside and the goal was erased off the board. Karol Swiderski would have an opportunity in front of goal before Cucho Hernandez would find the back on the net a few minutes later to make a 3-0 game at the half.

Charlotte FC would come out of the half firing to get themselves right back in the game. Swiderski would go five-hole on Columbus goalkeeper Patrick Schulte in the 56th minute and Meram would strike just two minutes later off of a passing error on the back end by Columbus to make it 3-2. On Columbus’ next offensive zone possession, though, Ramirez would bury his second goal of the night to make it 4-2 and swing the momentum right back in the Crew’s favor. Charlotte wouldn’t threaten until the dying moments of stoppage time, dropping their final game of the three-game road trip.

It is no coincidence that the squad’s worst defensive performance came with the extremely productive Adilson Malanda out of the lineup with an injury. Malanda led Charlotte in nearly every defensive category and with Guzmán Corujo still working his way back to full speed, the squad was at a major disadvantage against a hungry and aggressive Columbus attack. The news does not get any better defensively for the team as Nathan Byrne picked up his fifth yellow card of the season and will now miss the next match.

Charlotte FC now sits ninth in the Eastern Conference after Matchday 17 with a 6-8-3 record. The team will head back home to Bank of America Stadium for Saturday’s match with the Seattle Sounders. The Charlotte FC Pregame show will begin on WFNZ at 7:00 PM with the game starting shortly after 7:30 PM with Will Palaszczuk and Jessica Charman on the call.