Charlotte, NC – Behind goals by Brandt Bronico and Dominic Bonilla and a strong total team defensive effort, the 22nd-ranked Charlotte 49ers defeated Radford, 2-1, in their season opener at Transamerica Field. With the victory, the 49ers improve to 13-1-1 in home openers since 2000.
Charlotte scored the game’s first goal when Kyle Parker crossed the ball from the left side of the field to Bronico who was near the far post. Bronico headed in Parker’s cross for his first goal of the season in the 17th minute.
Then, Charlotte’s Nick Barnhorst was issued a red card after being called for a hand ball in the box at the 20:04 mark of the match. Radford’s Mauricio Rancel converted the subsequent penalty kick tying the game at one.
The 49ers had to play the final 69 minutes and 56 minutes with ten players.
Charlotte coach Kevin Langan was very proud of the 49ers efforts.
“The tactics change a little bit, obviously we are a pressing team, so you have to pick and choose where you press on the field,” Langan said. “For me it was important that we got to halftime to get everyone calm and relaxed. We clarified everybody’s roles; we got the substitutions ready for the rotations and who was going to come on so we could share the workload. It was an unbelievable effort from the guys, really proud of them; they showed guts, and great fitness and camaraderie, everything you need to have a great season. ”
Charlotte regained the lead for good when Bronico beat a couple of defenders down the right side of the field. He crossed the ball to Bonilla who was streaking down the middle of the field. Bonilla blasted a shot into the back of the next in the 62nd minute giving the 49ers a 2-1 lead.
Charlotte defense behind the play of goalkeeper Austin Pack and defenders Mark Sloan, Luke Waechter, Biko Bradnock-Brennan and David Mayer was strong only allowing the one penalty kick goal despite playing nearly 70 minutes a man down.
Charlotte continues their two-game season-opening home stand when they play 17th-ranked Coastal Carolina at Transamerica Field, Friday, September 5 at 7 pm.