LOS ANGELES - Charlotte FC will play their first ever home game on Saturday and opponents LA Galaxy know they will have to weather a storm of excitement pouring out from the team's supporters.
Charlotte, who joined MLS as its 28th team this season, are expected to draw an MLS record 75,000 supporters to Bank of America Stadium for their highly-anticipated home debut.
While it is "fantastic" for the league that it is expanding into new markets, it presents problems for the visitors, LA Galaxy coach Greg Vanney said.
"Clearly there is going to be a lot of emotion both for their fans and their team," Vanney told reporters on a video call. "For us, it's about managing that excitement at the beginning and allowing the game an opportunity to settle in. It becomes a soccer game at some point but for sure at the beginning, there's emotion, there's anxiousness, there's probably a lot of extra energy. So for us it's about managing the environment."
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Charlotte's first match last weekend was one to forget as they fell to a 3-0 defeat at DC United. But watching the game back, Vanney said the expansion team was better than the final score indicated.
"I think they were unlucky in DC," he said. "They are organized. They obviously want the ball, and they are not afraid to play through some pressure. They have good ideas but they were a little unfortunate in terms of with the timing of the goals."
DC United scored a first-half penalty and again just before halftime and Charlotte were unable to climb back into the contest.
Galaxy striker Javier Hernández said he was excited for the challenge.
"Regardless of if they are new or not, we are going to respect them and expect that they are going to fight for their lives," he said. "That city is going to support them really well because they are very excited to have a new team, so it's going to be tough."
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Toby Davis)
How To Watch Charlotte FC vs. LA Galaxy
Date: Saturday, March 5, 2022
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET | TV: FOX and FOX Deportes
Location: Bank of America Stadium