Charlotte FC interim head coach “steadied the ship” despite falling short of playoffs

Charlotte FC interim head coach “steadied the ship” despite falling short of playoffs

Christian Lattanzio. Photo: Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

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Christian Lattanzio wasn’t hired to be Charlotte FC’s head coach, but that’s what’s been asked of him since May 31.

State of play: Charlotte is negotiating a deal with the interim head coach, club president Joe LaBue confirmed to the media after Wednesday night’s 2-2 draw against Columbus Crew. It is a three-year deal, per sources.

  • The 51-year-old career assistant has coached all over the world, including in Major League Soccer as an assistant at New York City FC alongside Patrick Vieira before they returned to Europe to coach in France.

Why it matters: Head coaches in Charlotte have been on the chopping block this season, and if Charlotte FC decides not to go with Lattanzio, they would have three head coaches before their second season.

  • There is no word on when the deal will be signed.

What they’re saying: “He steadied the ship,” Charlotte FC sporting director Zoran Krneta told Axios in late August.

  • Charlotte’s front office is pleased with Lattanzio and they like him, Krneta added.
  • He declined to comment on Lattanzio’s contract Tuesday morning on WFNZ.

Zoom out: Two of Charlotte’s three major league head coaches have been let go this year: Miguel Ángel Ramírez in May and former Charlotte Hornets James Borrego in April.

  • The former failed to connect with his players and was sacked less than halfway through their inaugural season.
  • The latter took the team to its first winning season since 2015-16, but never reached the playoffs.
  • Yet Matt Rhule remains the head coach of the Carolina Panthers, despite starting the season 1-3 and failing to make the playoffs or even come close to going .500 in 2020 or 2021. If he is let go this month, Charlotte’s three major league sports will have axed their head coaches within six months of each other.

The big picture: Lattanzio has established a reputation in Charlotte for player development, which is apparent in players like starting midfielder Brandt Bronico — who put in extra work with Lattanzio outside of practice — and striker Daniel Rios — who scored the clubs first hat trick (ultimately becoming the first Charlotte FC player to score four goals in a game) when they upset Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia Union 4-0 last weekend.

What’s next: Charlotte FC’s season finale is at New York Red Bulls on Sunday, Oct. 9 at 2:30pm in what is known around the league as Decision Day — the last day of the regular season where teams hoping to make the playoffs have their dreams crushed or fulfilled.

  • Charlotte fell short of the playoffs. They needed a win against Columbus in their home finale Wednesday night to keep their playoff hopes alive.
  • Of note: Lattanzio’s first match as interim head coach was also against the Red Bulls. Charlotte won 2-0.

Here’s a timeline of Lattanzio’s role with Charlotte FC: 

July 2021: He’s added to the coaching staff shortly after they announced hiring Ramírez.

Aug. 2021: He arrived in Charlotte and became the first Charlotte FC coach to begin working with the club.

May 31, 2022: Charlotte FC named Lattanzio interim head coach.

Sept. 2022: Contract negotiations were first reported by TopBin90.

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