Charlotte FC must win their regular season home finale to keep playoff hopes alive

Charlotte FC must win their regular season home finale to keep playoff hopes alive

Charlotte FC vs. Columbus on July 30 at Bank of America Stadium. The match was ultimately postponed due to inclement weather. Photo: David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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There will be drama at Bank of America Stadium tonight.

What’s happening: It’s a battle between a storied club and an expansion side as Charlotte FC hosts Columbus Crew at 7pm in their penultimate regular season Major League Soccer match.

Catch up quick: A persistent summer thunderstorm in Charlotte postponed this match from July, making it Charlotte FC’s regular season home finale.

Why it matters: The playoffs are on the line.

Details: A win won’t clinch a spot for either side, but it will keep them alive on Decision Day (the final day of the regular season).

  • MLS postseason play includes the top seven teams from the Eastern and the Western Conference. Both teams currently sit below seventh.

By the numbers: Columbus sits in eighth in the East with a record of 10-7-15 with 45 points. Charlotte’s directly below them in ninth with 41 points at 13-17-2.

  • A win is worth three points. A tie is worth one point.

Yes, but: Even if Charlotte claims all six points from their last two matches, that doesn’t guarantee they’ll make the playoffs. They need other teams, particularly Inter Miami who sits in the final playoff spot with 45 points at 13-13-6, to lose.

The intrigue: They will pick back up in the 16th minute. MLS policy dictates both teams will have the same players on the field and the same subs for both matches.

  • Injured or unavailable players, like Charlotte defender Guzman Corujo, can only be replaced by a substitute on the official game roster from July.

Yes, but: Goalkeepers are the exception. Charlotte will be able to add another goalkeeper to the roster if Kristijan Kahlina is out. He was injured during warmups before Philadelphia.

  • Plus, this means Charlotte will be without three of their starters from Saturday’s 4-0 win against Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia.

Flashback: Columbus hosted Charlotte in June. It ended in a 1-all draw. The two sides also met in February during a preseason tournament in Charleston, which ended 0-0.

Zoom out: Charlotte FC’s second hire, Marc Nicholls, who served as technical director, left before the start of their inaugural season to take the same role with Columbus.
  • Dan Lock, another early Charlotte hire, left the organization for Columbus a few months later.

The big picture: It’s been a minute since Charlotte had a major league team in the playoffs. The Hornets haven’t been there since the 2015-16 season, and the Carolina Panthers haven’t been there since the 2017 season. Charlotte FC has already electrified Uptown. Now fans have something to hope for, as the team pushes to make the playoffs in its inaugural season.

The bottom line: Tonight is a must-win for both sides.

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