His back to the goal, Brecht Dejaegere stuck his right leg out behind him as a pass bounced toward him and, in acrobatic fashion, poked it past the opposing goalkeeper.
Dejaegere’s gem — his first goal in a Queen City uniform — fired up a raucous 30,080 at Bank of America Stadium in the second half of Charlotte FC’s 3-0 win over Toronto FC in its penultimate home game.
“I think that was the most difficult goal I’ve scored in my career so far,” Dejaegere told reporters.
Charlotte, which won its first match since Aug. 26 against Los Angeles, still controls its own destiny with three matches left. It travels to eighth-place Chicago on Saturday before a home-and-home with Inter Miami — Oct. 18 on the road and Oct. 21 in Charlotte to round out the regular season. If Charlotte wins out, it’ll reach the playoffs.
— Charlotte FC (@CharlotteFC) October 5, 2023
Dejaegere’s highlight-worthy score was assisted by Karol Swiderski, who netted Charlotte’s first two goals on first-half penalty kicks. Dejaegere, a 32-year-old Belgian midfielder who joined Charlotte in July, had a smile on his face and pointed to his excited teammates as he jogged up field.
The moment may have been even more special for Dejaegere’s family. He mentioned post-match that he’d been thinking about his wife, who couldn’t be in attendance Wednesday evening as she’s been pregnant for nearly nine months, with a due date of Oct. 9.
“It’s not easy when it’s getting so close,” Dejaegere said, thinking about his family. “[The goal] was awesome for me, but it was a goal for them.”
Charlotte (8-11-12) led Wednesday’s match early, with Swiderski’s first penalty kick coming during the eighth minute.
The Queen City side’s offense dominated time of possession and already appeared to have another score during the 33rd minute, but what would have been Swiderski’s second goal was waved off after video review determined Charlotte was offsides.
“[Swiderski] scored three goals,” head coach Christian Lattanzio said. “I wanted him to play a certain way, and he responded well. ... He played better than usual managing the ball and making key plays.”
But Charlotte, and Swiderski, got that one back before the first half ended. After a lengthy review that led to six minutes of stoppage time being added to the opening half, Swiderski hammered home another penalty kick.
Toronto (4-18-10), which has the worst record in the MLS, parted ways with its coach midseason and has won just once since Bob Bradley’s departure in June. It hasn’t won a road match since last season — a 2-0 victory in Charlotte last August.
Lattanzio has been impressed with Dejaegere since he joined the team and said the versatile midfielder has untapped potential. He said he knows he wants to get into his rhythm and has been able to tell that he could be a boisterous player with strong abilities on the pitch.
Said Lattanzio: “We haven’t seen the best of him yet.”