Christian Lattanzio has warned it may take time for Charlotte FC to adapt to life after Miguel Angel Ramirez as they prepare for Saturday’s visit of New York Red Bulls.

Charlotte took the somewhat surprising decision to part ways with Ramirez two weeks ago, just 14 games into their inaugural MLS campaign.

Lattanzio, appointed as assistant coach a little under a year ago, has been placed in interim charge and has full faith in the squad he has inherited.

“This current squad, for me, is able to compete against everybody,” he said.

“The result is not always in our control but the way we go about it, the way we compete, the way we play, the way we put intensity, it’s up to us.

“I have full belief in the squad, 100 percent, in each and every one of them, even in the players that are on the fringe or didn’t play a lot.

“For the players, as much as they want to do well, you need a bit of time in order to see certain things changing. Maybe we have to have a little bit of time to see things settle.”

Charlotte have won five, lost eight and drawn one of their 14 league games and are positioned eighth in the Eastern Conference, seven points behind New York Red Bulls.

The Red Bulls beat Charlotte in the last 16 of the U.S. Open cup late last month, but this will be the first ever regular season meeting between the sides.

Charlotte have won five of their past six home league games and RBNY coach Gerhard Struber is anticipating a tough test this weekend.

“We saw clearly their strengths in the recent cup game,” Struber said. “In possession they have good rotations and a good set-up. They also like to go long from the goalkeeper.

“We’ve not always coped well aerially, so we’ll have to be clear and focus on transitions. At home they have a lot of supporters, in a special atmosphere, but we will be focused.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Charlotte FC – Ben Bender

Karol Swiderski and Kamil Jozwiak are away on international duty with Poland, so there will be plenty of onus on Bender to get the hosts firing. The 2022 No.1 pick in the MLS SuperDraft was on target against Seattle Sounders in Charlotte’s most recent match to make it five direct goal involvements for the season.

New York Red Bulls – Luquinhas

Luquinhas registered his first multi-goal match for the Red Bulls last time out with two strikes in their 4-1 win against D.C. United. The Brazilian attacker has recorded a goal or an assist in eight of his 10 starts across all competitions this season.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– The Red Bulls have lost only three of their last 20 league matches against expansion sides dating back to the 2011 season (W13 D4), though New York did lose their last MLS match against a newcomer, falling 2-1 at home to Inter Miami in October 2020.

– Charlotte dismissed manager Miguel Angel Ramirez after just 14 games despite getting off to a solid start. Charlotte’s 16 points after 14 games puts them in the middle of the pack, sixth, among the 13 MLS expansion teams since 2010.

– New York’s strong start this season has been almost solely based on their away form. The Red Bulls tied the MLS record for the most consecutive road wins to begin a season (five) and have taken 69.6 per cent of their points on the road in 2022 (16/23).

– Charlotte’s offensive struggles have come mostly from their issues in the box. They have scored a league-low nine goals in the box despite ranking near the middle of the pack in attempts in the box.

– Lewis Morgan has been one of the best acquisitions of the winter, leading the Red Bulls with six goals in 2022. Morgan impacts the attack in multiple ways as he has attempted 320 open play crosses since joining MLS in 2020, which is more than any other player in that time.