Discover more from The Charlotte Ledger
From gaffe to greatness for Belgian newcomer
Charlotte FC keeps playoff hopes alive on two Swiderski goals and a Dejaegere showstopper; Swiderski addresses Europe rumors; Poreba brings Polish flavor to Crown Legacy; and advancing Chicago game
It’s time for Fútbol Friday, The Charlotte Ledger’s weekly newsletter getting you up to speed on Charlotte FC, the city’s new pro soccer team.
➡️ Need to sign up for Fútbol Friday and other Charlotte-focused email newsletters from The Charlotte Ledger? You can do that here.
➡️ Ledger subscribers can add or drop individual newsletters on their “My Account” page.
Today’s Fútbol Friday is sponsored by Pomfret Financial.
Play with your HEART, not just your feet.
Pomfret Financial is a Charlotte-based INSURANCE & BUSINESS PLANNING firm helping families & businesses since 1975.
Dejaegere scores on what’s dubbed a ‘scorpion’ kick to make amends for costly late-game foul against Philly
Dejaegere moving upfield against Toronto. (Photo by Kevin Young of The 5 and 2 Project.)
Even after 13 years in the upper echelons of European soccer in Belgium and France and the honor of a No. 10 jersey awaiting him in Charlotte, newcomer Brecht Dejaegere still needed to prove himself to a new team and new city. So when his elementary mistake cost Charlotte FC a game-tying penalty kick two weeks ago against Philadelphia, it stung all the more.
He found a fitting way to make amends. Dejaegere scored the first “scorpion” in Charlotte FC history Wednesday night to cap a 3-0 victory in a must-win game against Toronto, while teaching us some new soccer terminology.
A scorpion kick is when a player takes a back-heel swat at a ball that’s behind him, often extending his leg over his head so it looks like a scorpion’s tail. As it was with Dejaegere, a scorpion kick tends to happen so quickly and unexpectedly that it needs video replay — and slow motion — to believe your eyes.
Even for the man who passed Dejaegere the ball for the assist Wednesday night.
“I was looking to Ash (Westwood) and Kamil (Jozwiak) like ‘What happened? I don’t believe this,’” said Karol Swiderski. “He’s got this amazing goal, but I think this goal also was very important for him. I think he’s a really good player with good quality. I think now he can have more confidence. I think he will be even better in the next game.”
Dejaegere scored the goal in the west end of Bank of America Stadium, not far from where he got beat by Philadelphia’s Olivier Mbaizo on Sept. 20 and then fouled Mbaizo in the 18-yard box trying to take him down from behind. The ensuing penalty kick tied the game seven minutes into stoppage time and cost Charlotte FC two points as a sure win turned into a tie. The blown lead continued a trend that has plagued Charlotte all season, but it fell raw for Dejaegere, who was acquired during the summer transfer window.
“It was a hard knock, especially (because) I’m one of the experienced guys,” Dejaegere said Wednesday night. “… That was really hurtful, because I’m the guy who always plays for the team, and I felt like I let them down. My instinct took over that moment, but that’s not an excuse. It was a mistake. So that’s why I'm really happy that I could help the team today.”
The scorpion kick was good for his first goal with Charlotte FC, and it was a beauty. The social media team at Charlotte FC created a video reel of it in slow motion and set it to Claude Debussy’s “Clair de Lune.” An instant classic:
“I ran to the first post, but then the ball went back, and then I saw it was a little bit behind me, so yeah, that was an intuition goal,” Dejaegere said. “I think it was also the most beautiful I’ve scored in my career so far. But for me, it’s cliche, but I’m really happy for the team, really happy for the supporters. We really needed that win, and for me, that’s the most important.”
Charlotte FC needed wins in three of its final five games to have a shot at the playoffs and four wins to guarantee it. This was the first step, with games remaining Saturday in Chicago and two against Inter Miami (Oct. 18 on the road and Oct. 22 at home).
Charlotte fans, meanwhile, are still learning how to pronounce Dejaegere’s last name. The Bank of America public address announcer challenged them with his usual practice of saying a Charlotte player’s first name and staying silent as they chant the player’s last name. That one didn’t go over so well in this case. For those still baffled, and rightly so, Dejaegere sounds like “De - yah - guh -rrrrah” with a rolling r.
The scorpion goal was big on style points, importance for the team and meaning for Dejaegere personally as well. His wife, Jana, is home in Belgium, pregnant with their second child and due to give birth on Monday. They have an older son, Noah, who is 4.
“The goal was special for them because it’s not easy,” Dejaegere said. “When (the birth) is getting so close, I feel like I have to be with them. They’re supporting me all the way, so the goal was for them.”
Swiderski says ‘it’s normal’ to want to play in Europe
Swiderski scored two goals and assisted the third in a 3-0 win over Toronto. (Photo by Kevin Young of The 5 and 2 Project.)
In late August, just as the European transfer window was about to close, reports surfaced that an Italian team was pursuing Swiderski, Charlotte FC’s highest-profile player and member of the Polish national team. In an interview with Polish sports publication Sport.PL, Swiderski acknowledged his interest in playing for a Top 5 league in Europe and said his agent was entertaining proposals.
Swiderski is fairly media shy in Charlotte but spoke Wednesday night after scoring a pair of goals on penalty kicks and assisting the third. Given the chance to finally elaborate on the prospects of returning to Europe, Swiderski said what he meant got lost in translation.
“You guys don’t understand really what I say,” Swiderski said in the postgame press gathering. “I think it’s normal for every player who lives in Europe. Of course I want to play in Europe, in top leagues … but I’m happy to be here, and I think I play every game, I score some goals, so it’s not like I need to move tomorrow. I’m here, and I’m really happy. Of course I want to go to Europe, but it’s not like I need to go now.”
Notable: Goal-line technology lacking; Chicago Fire offers credit for Messi tickets
◼️ Copetti non-goal: Charlotte striker Enzo Copetti scored what appeared to be a clear goal on a header late in the first half Wednesday night. Toronto goalkeeper Luka Gavran appeared to get his hands on it but only after the ball crossed the goal line. The referee didn’t see it that way.
The play is not reviewable in Major League Soccer. Goal-line technology would have come in handy.
Goal-line technology was first introduced in 2014 in the English Premier League, and later that year during the FIFA World Cup. The system, which is estimated to cost $260,000 per stadium, features up to 14 high-speed cameras, which can produce a 3D animation to show whether a ball fully crosses the goal line.
Charlotte FC coach Christian Lattanzio would like to see MLS use the technology. “This is something that this league, in my opinion, has to solve,” Lattanzio said. “This kind of technology should be a given.”
◼️ Chicago Fire offers ticket credit: A day before Inter Miami was scheduled to play in front of a record 62,124 fans at Chicago’s Soldier Field on Wednesday night, the Chicago Fire announced a decision to offer credits to fans attending the game because injured superstar Lionel Messi would not be playing. The club offered a $250 credit toward season tickets for next season or a $50 credit for single-game tickets.
“We understand that many of our fans may be disappointed if they don’t get the chance to see him play,” the club said in a statement.
Messi missed his fourth consecutive game for Miami with an undisclosed injury and is a question mark for Saturday against FC Cincinnati. Miami coach Tata Martino said Wednesday, “I think he’s getting closer to playing again.” Even if Messi is healthy enough to play Oct. 21 in Charlotte, Inter Miami might choose to rest him if the team is out of contention.
Given that nuance and the slippery slope of offering discounted tickets based on an opponent’s injury status, there’s been no indication that Charlotte FC intends to follow Chicago’s lead on this.
Polish connection extends to Next Pro team and captain David Poreba
David Poreba celebrates a Crown Legacy victory with coach Jose Tavares. (Photo by Alana McCallion.)
As much publicity as the Polish pair of Karol Swiderski and Kamil Jozwiak get with Charlotte FC, there’s another player with Polish ties making his mark on Charlotte’s MLS Next Pro feeder team. David Poreba, who was born and raised in Chicago to Polish parents, has been the captain of Crown Legacy throughout its 19-4-5 run this season, which earned the team the No. 2 overall seed in the MLS Next Pro playoffs.
Crown Legacy, which had a bye in the first round, hosts Columbus Crew 2 on Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Matthews Sportsplex in the semifinals of the Eastern Conference.
Poreba, the 20-year-old midfielder with six goals and five assists this season, speaks fluent Polish. Instead of going the more traditional college soccer route out of high school, he started his professional career in the Polish professional leagues. He played there for a year and a half, culminating in a stint with first-division club Stal Mielec.
Poreba decided to return to the U.S. for a chance on the MLS track, only to find his Polish roots coming in handy again. He has befriended Swiderski, Jozwiak and Polish defender Jan Sobocinski. And he sees them on a regular basis, whether it’s eating breakfast together at the team’s new practice facility, which houses both Charlotte FC and Crown Legacy teams, eating sushi dinners away from the field, or hanging out with Swiderski and his 3-year-old young Antoni.
“Nice guy,” Swiderski says of Poreba. “Good player, and I love to spend time with him.”
Poreba concedes that his family gets a kick out of him being friends with Swiderski, who stars for the Polish national team. "It’s a big deal,” Poreba said. “Sometimes a little bit of my family is jealous.”
For his part, though, Poreba is taking full advantage of being mentored by veteran players and getting the inside track on how to improve as a better player.
“Taking care of your body as much as possible and just to be prepared for every training, every game,” he said. “And doing extra work whenever I can.”
Up Next: Charlotte FC (8-11-12) at Chicago Fire (10-12-10)
When/Where: 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Soldier Field, Chicago.
How to listen: WFNZ 92.7 FM in English and WOLS 106.1 FM in Spanish.
Charlotte is guaranteed to make the playoffs by winning its final three games: on the road against Chicago and away and home against Inter Miami. Winning two of three would leave the team in shouting distance but would require help from other teams to secure a top nine spot.
Charlotte is coming off a convincing 3-0 win against Toronto on Wednesday, just as Chicago defeated a Messi-less Miami team 4-1 in Chicago that night. Chicago has won two in a row after going winless in its previous seven MLS games (five losses and two draws).
Charlotte has won two of three games in the past two seasons against the Fire, including a 2-1 win at Bank of America on May 17 featuring two late goals by Brandon Cambridge.
Carroll Walton is a longtime baseball writer with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution now cutting her teeth on soccer and the Charlotte FC just as fans in Charlotte do. She would love to hear from you. E-mail her with questions, suggestions, story ideas and comments!
Need to sign up for this e-newsletter? We offer a free version, as well as paid memberships for full access to all 4 of our local newsletters:
➡️ Learn more about The Charlotte Ledger
The Charlotte Ledger is a locally owned media company that delivers smart and essential news through e-newsletters and on a website. We strive for fairness and accuracy and will correct all known errors. The content reflects the independent editorial judgment of The Charlotte Ledger. Any advertising, paid marketing, or sponsored content will be clearly labeled.
Like what we are doing? Feel free to forward this along and to tell a friend.
Sponsorship information/customer service: email firstname.lastname@example.org.