Union take aim at stingy Charlotte defense

The defense has come together for Charlotte FC and the team is looking to build on that foundation.

Next comes Saturday night’s visit from Philadelphia Union, who have been one of the top teams on offense.

“My defense played very, very well at a high level,” Charlotte goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina said. “It’s much easier for me this season than if I would compare to the last two seasons.”

Charlotte (6-5-3, 21 points) has delivered three consecutive clean sheets, going 2-0-1 during that stretch. For the season, the 13 goals conceded are tied for the second fewest in MLS.

“Now we are at a really high level,” Kahlina said of the defensive end.

Philadelphia (4-4-5, 17 points) is tied for second in the league in goals scored and is a strong road club. The Union’s 3-0 victory last weekend at New England extended their road unbeaten streak to seven matches.

“This game has a way of rewarding hard work and consistency,” Union coach Jim Curtin said.

The latest result marked Philadelphia’s first road shutout of the season.

“We’ve become a road team this year,” Curtin said. “Winning games on the road in this league is really, really hard. Everybody has to be on the same page to get a result on the road.”

The Union’s offense is boosted by Daniel Gazdag and Julian Carranza, who’ve scored in the same match 16 times in their careers, including in the New England game. No pair in MLS history has done that more in the regular season.

With Charlotte’s defense becoming more connected, there could be an emphasis on cultivating more scoring chances at the other end. The team is coming off a 0-0 draw with the LA Galaxy.

“We need to be more dangerous when we play at home,” Kahlina said. “We need to create more.”

On Thursday, defender Andrew Privett signed a new contract with Charlotte taking him through 2028. He was converted from a midfielder to center back late last season, playing a full match in 29 consecutive matches.

“It means more work and growing in that (center back) position I’m in now,” Privett said. “The work doesn’t stop. The mentality to grind and keep working.”

Philadelphia’s defense was also solidified this week with goalkeeper Andre Blake signing a contract extension through 2026, though Curtin said it’s unlikely Blake will be back from an injury in time to play in Charlotte.

–Field Level Media