Charlotte FC gets late goal to beat Vancouver and its teenage goalie. What we learned

·7 min read
Alex Slitz/alslitz@charlotteobserver.com

It wasn’t the thrashing Charlotte FC was trying for Sunday at Bank of America Stadium, but the Major League Soccer expansion team was able to pick up three points in the Eastern Conference standings.

Charlotte FC scored a 2-1 win against the Vancouver Whitecaps with goals by Andre Shinyashiki and Daniel Ríos, who sunk the ball in the 85th minute to lift Charlotte over the Canadian team suffering from a long list of absences due to health and safety protocols and player injuries.

Vancouver took advantage of Charlotte’s defense early

With none of its regular goalkeepers available, the Whitecaps started keeper Max Anchor, a 17-year-old academy call-up who joined the first team Friday. He’s believed to be the second-youngest starting goalkeeper in MLS history.

“It shows a big personality,” said Charlotte FC head coach Miguel Ángel Ramírez, who said he spoke with Anchor after the match and offered his encouragement. “It’s just the beginning for him.”

Even with the depleted lineup, it was Vancouver that opened the scoring in just the second minute in front of an announced crowd of 32,034.

The team’s attacking line pressed into Charlotte’s final third and a misfired ball by Charlotte defender Christian Fuchs, the captain who re-joined the starting lineup after coming back from a right thigh injury. He exited the latest match at the 52nd minute with an unknown injury.

But before then, Fuchs played the ball that bounced off the feet of a Cristian Dájome closing in. The ball was picked up by his Whitecaps teammate Tosaint Ricketts, who netted a right-footed shot from the center of the box to the lower-left corner.

“The first goal was really lucky, some rebounds,” Ramírez said, adding that on Charlotte’s side, the squad was meeting and possessing the ball, but “something need(ed) to happen.”

Charlotte FC fires back, subs make impact

Charlotte responded six minutes after Vancouver scored with a goal by Shinyashiki, who picked up his third goal in the last four matches for Charlotte FC. Through the first half, Charlotte controlled the ball with a possession percentage of 70, but had just one shot on goal off seven attempts. Meanwhile, Vancouver took three shots and all three were on goal.

As fan and coach tempers on both sides flared at the refs from the first half stoppage through the final whistle, a flurry of substitutions late in the game helped spark Charlotte FC’s offense, with Colombian-born Kerwin Vargas making his debut. Kamil Jóźwiak, who made his start for Charlotte, Ben Bender and Shinyashiki came off for Titi Ortiz, McKinze Gaines and Vargas in the 65th minute.

“We were losing this impact with the minutes, and that’s why I changed the forwards,” Ramírez said. “Straight away, something started to happen, chances. I believe that we did really well (with) how to progress and how to find the ways later on.”

Vargas took multiple close attempted shots, but just missed just shy of the goal. His debut highlighted his promise. Ramírez noted the greater depth in Charlotte FC’s lineup that was evident with the presence of mid-season additions of Vargas, Shinyashiki and Jóźwiak.

“It was great (to get) minutes, it was a great game,” Vargas said in Spanish. “I know that I can keep working this way ... It was a surprise, but thankfully to God that I was able to play today. I’m really excited about it.”

But it was Ríos who picked up on a missed ball by Ortiz near Vancouver’s net three minutes after subbing on for Karol Świderski, who tried multiple long shots earlier in the match. For Ríos, it was his first MLS goal with Charlotte FC.

He finished the play to give Charlotte the late lead, and a final stop by Kristijan Kahlina in the sixth minute of stoppage time sealed the win.

“We were pushing, we were trying and when I was subbed on it takes a couple of minutes to get the rhythm of the game,” Ríos said. He dedicated the goal to his grandfather who recently passed away and to his family.

“I’m happy to score my first goal (with Charlotte),” Ríos said. “It was an incredible effort.”

Charlotte FC vs Vancouver Whitecaps updates:

Charlotte FC takes 2-1 lead at 85’

With five minutes left, Daniel Rios scored his first MLS goal of the season to break the tie and put Charlotte ahead of Vancouver.

Charlotte FC subs at 63’

In: Titi Ortiz, McKinze Gaines and Kerwin Vargas.

Out: Ben Bender, Kamil Jozwiak and Andre Shinyashiki.

Christian Fuchs exits with injury

Charlotte FC captain Christian Fuchs was subbed out at the 50-minute mark for Christian Makoun. Moments earlier, Fuchs suffered an injury on the defensive side of the pitch and was worked on by trainers until they decided to take him out of the game. It’s unclear at the moment what the injury is.

Fuchs missed last week’s match with a thigh injury he suffered against Miami two weeks ago.

Tied at the half

Charlotte FC enters the half tied 1-1 and Charlotte fan tempers at the refs flair, with a yellow card being shown to the Charlotte FC benches and coaching staff. Forward Kamil Jóźwiak went down hard in the box, but wasn’t awarded a penalty. Charlotte instead took two corners in a row and didn’t convert. Chants of “ref you suck” filled the stadium in the final minutes of stoppage before the whistle marking the halftime break. It will be up to Charlotte to put away their shots.

Charlotte controls possession but not shots

We’re at the 25-minute mark and Charlotte has had its opportunities to score against Vancouver’s 17-year-old goalie but so far has only capitalized on the Shinyashiki goal at the 8-minute mark. Ironically, that’s been FC’s only shot on goal, as the club’s four others haven’t been on target.

Vancouver has three shots on target despite only holding possession for 29 percent of the half.

Charlotte FC ties it at 1-1

Vancouver goes with Academy goalie

The lineups are in. Vancouver will start its Academy call-up Max Anchor in goal tonight without any of its regular first-team goalies available due to a combination of players being in health and safety protocols and injury.

Anchor is 17 years old and was called up on Friday to play with the first team on an MLS Homegrown pre-contract and MLS Short-Term Agreement. Vancouver also added keeper Niko Giantsopoulos from York United FC on an MLS Short-Term Agreement through the weekend.

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