A big crowd at Bank of America Stadium got to watch its beloved Charlotte FC battle to a memorable 1-1 result with Chelsea on Wednesday night before triumphing in a shootout. Charlotte fell behind to a fortuitous Christian Pulisic goal in the 30th minute but wildly equalized from the penalty spot with virtually the last kick of the 90 minutes.
Part of the 'Clash of Nations' tour that's raging across the nation, this one featured the two-time Champions League winners against the holders of the MLS attendance record.
Thomas Tuchel fielded a starting XI with Pulisic, Jorginho, Mateo Kovačić, Thiago Silva, Reece James and Édouard Mendy included, while Michy Batshuayi — who the manager said had "a big, big chance" this preseason — led the line.
The striker failed to impress with a heavy touch that killed a clear opportunity and another good chance that Kristijan Kahlina repelled. He did, however, take the deflected shot that wound up at the feet of Pulisic for the opening goal.
CHRISTIAN PULISIC OPENS THE SCORING FOR CHELSEA pic.twitter.com/HcXMbdCtH2
Pulisic was also the only player booked in the first half. That was for a reducer on Jan Sobociński in Charlotte's area.
The Blues beat Club América 2-1 in Las Vegas last Saturday, flew to Orlando and set up camp there (where they'll play Arsenal on July 23) and jetted to Charlotte this morning for tonight's game. That, and the hour-long weather delay before the game, all amounted to a pretty sluggish first half.
Tuchel brought on Mason Mount, Kai Havertz and gave Raheem Sterling his Chelsea debut to start the second half.
A first outing in Chelsea colours!
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) July 21, 2022
The Crown wasn't fazed. Charlotte looked infinitely better than Inter Miami against Barcelona last night, and both Mount and Sterling were denied late to keep it at 1-0.
Then, in stoppage time, 16-year-old CLTFC Academy player Brian Carmona — who'd just come on in the 89th minute — saw his shot blocked by the arm of Trevoh Chalobah. The ref pointed to the spot, Daniel Ríos converted and Bank of America Stadium erupted.
Charlotte FC tie it up in stoppage time against Chelsea pic.twitter.com/uIhWemj0w6
We went directly to a shootout. Ríos started it off with a Panenka. Charlotte's next taker, Christian Makoun, did Jorginho's hop technique. Mendy must've been wondering what the hell was going on.
The first to fail was Conor Gallagher. He stuttered his approach, the keeper didn't move and Gallagher ended up rolling one straight at him. It was godawful.
Sterling buried his effort to keep Chelsea alive, but Kamil Jóźwiak hit the decisive spot kick.
"We still have a lot of work to do," Pulisic said after the match. He was then asked if it was bittersweet scoring against an MLS side: "I don't know about bittersweet, it felt pretty good."
We got a big rivalry brewing between Chelsea and Charlotte.