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Charlotte FC, Toronto FC seeking full three points after draws

Mar 25, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte FC midfielder Nuno Santos (77) gets ready for free kick in the second half against New York Red Bulls at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Griffin Zetterberg-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Griffin Zetterberg-USA TODAY Sports

Charlotte FC travel north of the border to take on Toronto FC on Saturday night with both teams coming off draws.

Charlotte (1-3-1, 4 points) picked up its first home points with a 1-1 draw at home against the New York Red Bulls on March 25. Charlotte surrendered a goal in the dying minutes of the first half but was able to rescue a point after forcing a second-half own goal.

Substitute Vinicius Mello made his first appearance for Charlotte after missing the entire 2022 season due to a foot injury and helped create the scoring chance for Kerwin Vargas, whose shot was put in by a Red Bulls defender.

“It’s very emotional for me because I arrived injured,” Mello said. “I was out for about a year and a half waiting for this moment, so when I got on the pitch I was overcome with happiness. Images of all the work I had done for this moment raced through my mind. I felt super happy that I could help the team out with my appearance.”

Charlotte will miss defender Bill Tuiloma and midfielder Ashley Westwood due to injury for the second game in a row and midfielder Brandt Bronico due to a one-game suspension. Nathan Byrne replaced Tuiloma and Nuno Santos replaced Westwood against the Red Bulls.

Other midfielders who could see action are Benjamin Bender and Karol Swiderski, back from international duty with Poland. Swiderski has played as an attacking midfielder previously under coach Christian Lattanzio.

Toronto (1-1-3, 6 points) picked up a road point in a goalless draw with the San Jose Earthquakes on March 25. Goalkeeper Sean Johnson saved both shots on goal he faced despite the Earthquakes unleashing 14 total shots.

“We had moments where our ability to play through the midfield, control the game, those things in some moments were quite good,” coach Bob Bradley said. “The reminder at the end to the group was there’s all those positives, but we should also feel like the next time we’re in that game, if we’re a little bit sharper, there’s three points for us.”

Defender Raoul Petretta, who started versus the Earthquakes, is questionable after being subbed off at halftime. Forward Lorenzo Insigne has already been ruled out.

–Field Level Media

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