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Match Preview: Penn FC vs Charlotte Independence

Penn FC looks to finish the season strong against some familiar faces

Penn FC

Match: Penn FC vs Charlotte Independence

Date: Wednesday, October 3rd

Time: 6:30 p.m. Eastern, 5:30 p.m. Central, 3:30 p.m. Pacific, 10:30 p.m. UTC

Venue: FNB Field (City Island. Harrisburg, PA)

How to Watch: ESPN + (Subscription Required)

How Charlotte will look: Charlotte isn’t out of the playoff hunt yet, but their chances are looking pretty slim. They can only max out at 47 points for the season, and the 8th place team in the East is already sitting at 44. So the only way they can get in is if they can win out, and that starts Wednesday in Harrisburg.

There’s a few familiar faces for Charlotte that have been seeing more playing time recently. Last year’s goalkeeper for the City Islanders Brandon Miller will probably get the start. He has been playing well in front of the net, although he has given up a heartbreaker or two lately. And Bilal Duckett just played a full 90 minutes for the Jacks against Pittsburgh. He last played for Harrisburg back in 2012 when he was teammates with Lucky Mkosana

How Penn FC will look: Penn FC has emerged from six matches in three weeks looking very much the worse for wear. They suffered five defeats with only a win against Indy Eleven to raise their spirits. They are almost completely eliminated from the playoffs at this point. The only way to make it in would involve winning out while also erasing a goal differential of about fifteen.

The player who has made the biggest plays during The Homestretch so far is Paulo Jr. He scored against Indy and Cincy and he had a goal against Pittsburgh called back as well. The main thing holding him back is that he hasn’t had a lot of chances. So if players like Marco Franco and Harri Hawkins can feed him more balls into the box, he should be able to either finish on his own or poach a few deflections courtesy of players like Lucky Mkosana or Aaron Dennis.

What to Expect: There’s an old saying on City Island. When Charlotte visits, it’s going to rain. At least, that’s been the case the last two seasons. The 2016 match was postponed a day due to rain and the 2017 contest had a lengthy weather delay. So while the current forecast indicates that there’s just a chance of showers for Wednesday, the smart money’s on some rain.

Speaking of rain, both of these teams will want to rain down goals during Wednesday’s match. A tie helps nobody, so everybody will need to push for the win. Even if there’s an early goal, don’t expect either team to park the bus. As Charlotte learned over the weekend, you can’t stop until you have a multi-goal lead. A goal at the death is always a possibility, especially in the USL.

So how do you score on a wet FNB Field? Long shots are pretty much out and attackers won’t have their full ability to really cut and move due to the slippery grass. So there’s really two ways to get around this. One way is to score off of set pieces, preferably with your head. The other way is to simply launch the ball into the box and hope that a bad touch by a defender lets the ball squirt lose for an easy finish.

Possession won’t be the key stat on Wednesday. Whichever team wins the shot battle is going to see more balls in the back of the net.

PREDICTION: It’ll be another soggy one for Penn FC, but I think they should have adapted by now. The time off should be good for them and I think they get a 2-1 win.