Christian Pulisic scored on home soil, but Chelsea found the going tough against a determined and energized Charlotte FC.
The American took a lucky deflection and turned it into Chelsea’s only goal on the half-hour mark, securing the USMNT star a fine evening deployed as a No. 10.
Yet Charlotte FC left no breathing room for Chelsea midfielders, as interim head coach Christian Lattanzio engineered a positive home performance to make life difficult for the likes of Raheem Sterling and Kai Havertz. “We were good for 80 meters of the pitch, but were not good enough in the final 20 meters,” said Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel after the match. “Today is on us, they showed courage and belief, man-marking us one-on-one. Whenever you give the stadium belief like we did anything can happen”
With the final kick of the game, 16-year-old Charlotte FC academy product Brian Romero won a penalty via a Trevoh Chalobah handball. That saw Daniel Rios strike from the spot and level the scoreline at 1-1. In these showcase friendlies, a “winner” is required, meaning the game went to a shootout.
All five Charlotte FC penalty takers scored, and goalkeeper Pablo Sisniega – the third keeper used by Charlotte in the match – saved a miserable Panenka attempt from Connor Gallagher that proved the difference.
Chelsea now head to Orlando, FL to face Arsenal in the club’s final tune-up of the summer.
The Sporting News followed the match live from Charlotte, NC to provide score updates, commentary and highlights as they happened.
MORE: The Sporting News brings you an exclusive look inside new MLS club Charlotte FC
30th min — CHE — Christian Pulisic
90+1 min — CLT — Daniel Rios (pen)
1st round: CLT — Rios (scores); CHE — Havertz (scores)
2nd round: CLT — Makoun (scores); CHE — Chilwell (scores)
3rd round: CLT — Walkes (scores); CHE — Gallagher (saved)
4th round: CLT — Mora (scores); CHE — Sterling (scores)
5th round: CLT — Joswiak (scores); CHE — xx
SHOOTOUT SCORE: Charlotte 5, Chelsea 3
Charlotte FC wins the match on penalties! Why, you ask? Why not! It’s a wonderful moment for the home side who produced a fabulous 90 minutes and come out with a
draw win. It’s a pre-season friendly, but this will do wonders for the confidence of the players and the profile of Lattanzio.
Gallagher 😬😬 pic.twitter.com/RT2PY9ULLs
It’s an entertaining conclusion to an entertaining match. The hosts came to play and matched Chelsea toe-for-toe the entire way, sitting back and absorbing pressure when needed but also venturing forward on plenty of occasions.
And guess what…because these pre-season friendly matches come as part of a larger series…WE HAVE A PENALTY SHOOTOUT!
90+1 min: GOAL, CHARLOTTE! Finally, a reward for all the hard work by the hosts! An outstanding run by 16-year-old Brian Romero slicing through the penalty area, and his shot is blocked by the arm of Trevoh Chalobah. It’s a clear penalty, and the official points to the spot.
Stepping up to take is Daniel Rios, and after Mendy is sent back to his line for some extra-curricular…HE SCORES! Bank of America Stadium goes berserk! It’s a deserved equalizer for a host side that has matched Chelsea all evening.
Charlotte FC tie it up in stoppage time against Chelsea 😱 pic.twitter.com/uIhWemj0w6
Unbelievable moment as Charlotte FC Academy player Brian Romero comes on in the final moments and immediately wins a penalty. At 16 years old. 1-1 against Chelsea in the 90 minute
84th min: Chance, Chelsea! Raheem Sterling again dazzles down the left, and he out-paces Walkes to the doorstep, but is stonewalled by another great stop for a Charlotte FC goalkeeper. This time, it’s Sisniega who gets a leg out to shut down the near-post window for a great save.
Sterling is cooking out there. #CFC
79th min: Chance, Charlotte! Shinyashiki comes so close to an equalizer! The Charlotte FC super-sub rises high on a corner, and produces a bullet header, but it’s agonizingly wide of the frame.
Raheem Sterling skins a man on a counter-attack down the other end, but can’t get a shot off before he’s dispossessed. Two more substitutes for Charlotte, as Chris Hegardt and Koa Santos come on.
78th min: Chance, Chelsea! It’s a tragic miss from Gallagher! The short, square ball from his right was slightly behind, but the young Chelsea midfielder should do so much better, just weakly scuffing his shot into the arms of new goalkeeper Sisniega. That’s one he’ll want back.
74th min: Chance, Chelsea! Another INCREDIBLE save by a Charlotte FC goalkeeper, this time George Marks! The young goalkeeper stops an excellent effort by Mount. It’s from point-blank range after a smart cross by Kenedy, and all Marks could do was make a reflex stop. Excellent job.
#CharlotteFC have used all three available goalkeepers tonight, and all three have come up with at least one incredible save. Former @ClemsonMSoccer GK George Marks had the best, with a reflex save to deny #ChelseaFC Mason Mount. Outstanding performances tonight.
Attendance is announced at 52,673 – a great crowd on hand for this match. Coming on for Charlotte FC is Jordy Alcivar, who replaces McNeill. Also, Marks is replaced after his excellent save, with Pablo Sisniega coming into net. Christian Lattanzio said he wanted to get as many players on for this experience, and he’s doing just that, with both Clemson graduates sacrificed.
69th min: Malang Sarr is a towering presence, and he rises high to meet a corner, but his header is into the bread basket of another recent Clemson graduate, George Marks.
Both Sterling and Mount are dropping very deep to help Chelsea build forward, which is stifling the Chelsea attack. Charlotte are up for this challenge.
64th min: Chance, Charlotte! What a job this second-half Charlotte side has done to go toe-to-toe with a Champions League power. The crowd ooh’s and ahh’s as the Charlotte midfield dances into and then out of pressure in midfield, with former Clemson star Quinn McNeill the most impressive. It results in a very close chance for Daniel Rios in front of net as a deflected cross floats just out of reach.
60th min: Charlotte will not go away, even with a completely new lineup. Kerwin Vargas wins a free-kick inches outside the top of the 18-yard box, going down under a heavy challenge. Vargas takes the set-piece himself, but blasts the shot well over. A good chance wasted, but Charlotte continue to have dangerous moments.
51st min: Chance, Chelsea! Havertz comes close! It’s a great cross from Gallagher down the right, and it’s just inches out of reach of Hzvertz. Ampadu then comes close with a weird effort on the follow-up but it’s deflected behind for a corner.
46th min: As expected, wholesale changes for both sides as we start the second half. Chelsea, for the second straight match, swap out their entire Starting XI (except Mendy who remains in goal), with new frontman Raheem Sterling now on the field. Charlotte FC does the same, bringing on an entirely new XI, including the goalkeeper as former Clemson netminder George Marks gets a chance to shine.
Charlotte FC 2nd half lineup (4-3-3): Marks (GK) — Afful, Walkes, Makoun, Mora — Jones, McNeill, Joswiak — Shinyashiki, Rios, Vargas.
Chelsea 2nd half lineup (3-5-2): Mendy (GK) — Sarr, Colwill Chalobah — Chilwell, Ampadu, Mount, Gallagher, Kenedy — Sterling, Havertz.
It’s that man Christian Pulisic with the game’s only goal, but the scoreline doesn’t quite accurately reflect the play on the field. It was a very even first half that saw Charlotte show quality organization against some of the world’s best players. For a short period before the goal, Charlotte actually looked the more likely team to score.
We’ll see what changes are in store for the second half from both sides, but the first 45 minutes were entertaining, and the fans here in Charlotte got to see a goal from the USMNT captain.
Pulisic purring along nicely, looks very sharp in the half spaces as a no10. Some great little touches.
Jorginho and Kovacic dominating the tempo of the game. Tuchel watching on very relaxed. #CFC #FCSeries
43rd min: Ziyech lets fly with a speculative shot from deep, and it goes well over the bar. Game has devolved into a midfield battle as Charlotte is back to being tough to break down.
Thiago Silva puts in a poor tackle on Swiderski in midfield and concedes a foul, but takes the brunt of it physically as well. He needs treatment for what appears to be a hard whack to the head, but is ok and returns to his spot along the back line.
35th min: Chance, Chelsea! WHAT A SAVE by Kahlina! Michy Batshuayi was slotted through one-on-one, but as he looked to strike, a defender recovered, forcing him to take an additional touch. He did, freeing himself again, but Kahlina got just enough of a touch to send it skittering wide. Brilliant save!
Moments later, the Charlotte FC goalkeeper is forced to make another stop from a healthy effort by Marcos Alonso. He’s standing on his head at the moment, Charlotte have broken down since the opener.
Kristijan Kahlina! WHAT! #FCSeries #CFCCHE @CharlotteFC pic.twitter.com/wW9oVv9NjF
34th min: Chance, Chelsea! Pulisic almost has another! A Hakim Ziyech cross from deep down the left is right in Pulisic’s path, but as he comes flying in with a karate kick, he just can’t reach it. The mostly Chelsea crowd wanted that.
30th min: GOAL, CHELSEA! It had to be Christian Pulisic starting in his home country. Unlucky for Charlotte, as the American international pounced first on a broken play. Batshuayi created it through the middle, and his low shot deflected off Guzman right to Pulisic’s feet. He couldn’t miss with the goal gaping. Charlotte defenders wanted the offside flag but it never came.
Pulisic had been quiet before the goal, with Chelsea choosing to attack mostly down the right. Still, the American seems to be always in the right place at the right time inside the 18-yard box.
CHRISTIAN PULISIC OPENS THE SCORING FOR CHELSEA 🔥 pic.twitter.com/HcXMbdCtH2
23rd min: Chance, Charlotte! Another near miss for the hosts! After a few Charlotte attackers let opportunities to shoot go, Yordy Reina lets fly and gets a healthy deflection off Reece James. Mendy could only watch as the ball curled towards goal, but clattered the corner of the woodwork and came out.
The crowd gives its loudest cheer yet, now very much into the match. This is well and truly a battle now. Chelsea supporters will be happy to have defensive reinforcements arriving soon.
Charlotte FC could easily be 2-0 up against Chelsea here.
Yordy Reyna is giving Reece James a hard time. Read that back again…#ForTheCrown
And right on cue…
Jules Koundé deal. Chelsea are now feeling confident as £55m bid was in line with Sevilla expectations, but still waiting for final green light. Thursday, key day. 🔵 #CFC
Deal until 2027 offered to Koundé.
No Barcelona bid, as of now – club still in contact with Koundé. pic.twitter.com/kHYOxTu5rS
19th min: Chance, Charlotte! How did the hosts not score?? Fuchs sends in a glorious cross from the left, and Mendy misreads it, letting it go by him to Swiderski all alone at the far post. The ball bobbles up awkwardly, and as he heads it down, Mendy recovers and gets the slightest touch, barely keeping it out. There was a nervy second or two as the ball trickled towards the post but the goalkeeper’s touch was effective enough.
Chelsea does not look great at the back
17th min: An early yellow card comes out for Marcos Alonso after a weird scramble in the attacking penalty area. On the edge of the six-yard box, Alonso went to ground to try and poke the loose ball into the net, but he was late and cleated Sobocinski. The Polish defender needs treatment but is up after a delay.
13th min: The crowd has a chuckle as Swiderski nearly charges down Edouard Mendy on the ball, but Mendy cooly skips aside as the Polish striker flies by. A nervy moment for the Chelsea goalkeeper, but he handled the pressure with ease.
Down the other end, Fuchs picks Hudson-Odoi’s pocket again.
11th min: Christian Fuchs still has it. He helps Charlotte get out of jail after a horrible pass from the goalkeeper almost let Chelsea in, then he blocks a Hudson-Odoi cross that deflects harmlessly into Kahlina’s arms. Chelsea are attacking down the right flank early on, but Fuchs has so far been up to the challenge.
9th min: Chelsea continue to generate attacking pressure, but Charlotte are standing tall. Another shot from centrally is an easy collect for Charlotte goalkeeper Kahlina. Guzman Corujo has made a pair of excellent tackles on the end line to prevent crosses.
5th min: Chance, Chelsea! Chelsea create the game’s first attacking third pressure, and Kovacic lets fly from the top of the penalty area. His shot is closed down and blocked by Jan Sobocinski. Chelsea come right back at it, and Callum Hudson-Odoi comes very close, fizzing a shot just wide of the right post.
3rd min: Christian Lattanzio’s side has not backed down from this one early, pressuring the ball hard with every Chelsea touch. It results in a bad pass from Kovacic to Hudson-Odoi on the right flank. We’ll see how long Charlotte FC can keep that up before Chelsea’s athleticism takes advantage of tired legs.
1st min: At long last, we are UNDER WAY from Charlotte, NC! After a 65-minute weather delay, and with a crowd of fans still outside the stadium waiting to get in, the game has begun. Michy Batshuayi gets us going from the center circle.
Marcos Alonso and Hudson-Odoi are the wing-backs for Chelsea, while Reece James and Emerson play center-back flanking Thiago Silva.
+61 mins to kick: The new kickoff time is in just a few minutes as lineups are announced, but the seats at Bank of America Stadium are still very sparse. I went down to the gates to see the situation, and it’s a nightmare. A massive herd of fans are stuck at the gates as ticket taking can’t keep up. The stadium staff was handcuffed by the hour gate closure, and it shows.
The #CharlotteFC 🆚 #ChelseaFC game is about to begin, but the seats are still very sparse. I went down to check out the situation at the gates, which were closed for a full hour for weather. Its SLAMMED and moving very slowly, but fans say they haven’t been waiting for too long pic.twitter.com/LObWe6rjdn
+45 mins to kick: New Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield is in the house! Taking in the sights from his new home stadium.
Baker Mayfield and DJ Moore taking a quick lap ahead of Charlotte FC/Chelsea pic.twitter.com/cyDCKSCz9W
+29 mins to kick: We have an official kickoff time of 8:35 p.m. ET, the clubs announce. As Fabrizio Romano would say, Here We Go! The Chelsea lineup, after being deleted off Twitter earlier, has also been re-posted and confirmed as it was initially. Pulisic remains a starter, with the awkward defensive configuration still in play.
We have a new kick-off time here in Charlotte due to the recent weather conditions.
We’ll get underway at 8.35pm local time! 👊 @ParimatchGlobal | #BluesInTheUSA pic.twitter.com/Yoo7HnhWsu
+18 mins to kick: The rain has slowed to a light drizzle, and fans have finally been allowed back in their seats after an hour sequestered in the muggy, crowded concourse. The system has passed the stadium, and it appears the distance parameters for lightning strikes (usually either 5 or 7 miles) have been met. Charlotte FC has announced gates will reopen in a few minutes.
In another positive sign, the on-field countdown clock that was set for 30 minutes has just been knocked down to 20 minutes, and has begun to count down.
+1 mins to kick: Well, we’ve officially passed the initial kickoff time, with no word on the delay. There hasn’t been a lightning strike for some time, but the 30-minute timer is sitting up on the scoreboard frozen without yet starting.
No word on the Chelsea lineup either, the team has not given an update since the initial Starting XI was posted then deleted on social media.
22 mins to kick: Chelsea are not the only Premier League team in the United States dealing with inclement weather. Arsenal, set to take on another MLS side in Orlando City at 7:30 p.m. ET, is dealing with torrential rain at Exploria Stadium in Florida. They have delayed that game’s kickoff to 8:15 (later pushed to 8:45).
T̶r̶a̶i̶n̶i̶n̶g̶ Raining hard ☔️
Due to some bad weather, we’re now scheduled to kick off at 8.15pm (ET) pic.twitter.com/NOfId8ddmo
Still no word on any potential delay here in Charlotte, but highly unlikely that it starts on time given lightning policies that require a 30 minute wait after every new lightning strike. Still, shouldn’t last terribly long.
All will be good once this last part (and lightning threat) passes in 15-20 min. pic.twitter.com/yKix33Nxsr
45 min to kick: The Charlotte FC lineup is finally out, after a bit of a delay, probably due to the staff being preoccupied with the weather. It’s a very strong lineup for interim head coach Christian Lattanzio, essentially his full-strength Starting XI.
Leicester City’s Christian Fuchs is in the lineup against a familiar foe, while young talent Ben Bender starts as well. Designated Player Karol Swiderski starts up front, with the electric Yordy Reyna alongside. Super-sub Andre Shinyashiki starts on the bench as he has for the last month-plus.
60 mins to kick: Chelsea lineup is in. American international Christian Pulisic is amongst the Starting XI for Thomas Tuchel, in a very strong lineup. We expected Raheem Sterling would start based on Tuchel’s comments, but instead it’s Michy Batshuayi up front to begin. Sterling will likely come in at halftime.
Also, there are four wing-backs in the lineup, so it’s likely that Reece James and Emerson will line up alongside the lone natural center-back Thiago Silva in a back-three, with Callum Hudson-Odoi and Marcos Alonso will take up their wide positions.
Severe threat diminishing this evening, but just caught this crack of lightning over the Queen City. ⚡️ #NCwx #CLTwx pic.twitter.com/B8VrxNhW6f
62 mins to kick: With lineups imminent, the PA announcer has requested fans to exit their seats and head for the concourse due to impending weather. The sky has just turned inky black and the wind is whipping debris across the pitch. It’s approaching fast, and will be ugly for a bit, but shouldn’t last long (fingers crossed).
Let’s hope it doesn’t affect kickoff, but that depends on how fast the storm moves through. Either way, it’ll be wet out there for the start of the match.
Updated weather report for tonight: YIKES.
The stadium PA just announced for fans to evacuate their seats. Let’s hope it doesn’t affect kickoff time.#CFC #ChelseaFC #BluesInTheUSA #CharlotteFC pic.twitter.com/YcWl1epVFy
95 mins to kick: All eyes will be on the Chelsea attack today. There are only so many minutes to go around this season, even with the expanded substitutes in the Premier League this season. Thomas Tuchel admitted his forward room is jam packed, and he will be looking to establish some continuity on the field through the season to keep his best players in form. Solid preseason performances will go a long way for guys like Christian Puilsic, Hakim Ziyech, and Timo Werner towards solidifying a regular role.
I asked Tuchel if he thinks there will be enough mins to go around with all the attacking players at #CFC
“We will be keen to find a consistent starting lineup that provides danger to the opponent. We have lots of offensive players, and we need to find positions and roles.”
112 mins to kick: Christian Pulisic is back in his home nation, and he’s exploring sights throughout Chelsea’s travel across the country. After the Club America match in Las Vegas, Chelsea have the Charlotte match plus another in Orlando against Arsenal before heading back home to London. All of that in eight days’ time!
What a voice, Christian! 🎤
Looking back on when the boys met up with @QuinnXCII at @amoebamusic.
120 mins to kick: I am live on site in Charlotte to bring you all the action pre-match, during the game, and after the final whistle. Hope you can stick around!
Weather is glorious at the moment, but there are storms in the area potentially headed this way, so any weather updates will be in here as well.
And we are situated high above the @BofAstadium field. I’ll have all the coverage LIVE from tonight’s match.#ForTheCrown 🆚 #ChelseaFC pic.twitter.com/VDUDFtUlyv
It’s a very strong starting XI for the hosts, with former Leicester City stalwart Christian Fuchs leading the way at full-back. Designated Player Karol Swiderski begins up front, supported by young winger Yordy Reina. The only regulars not to appear from the opening whistle are Polish international Kamil Jozwiak, replaced by McKinzie Gaines on the right wing, and English center-back Anton Walkes, who is replaced by Jan Sobocinksi.
Charlotte FC interim head coach Christian Lattanzio said pre-match that “most of the lads, hopefully everyone, will get some minutes, for some 45 minutes and for some a little bit less” indicating that he will likely make wholesale changes at halftime.
Lattanzio also said that he has not ruled anyone out for the match, meaning everyone is theoretically available. It’s likely a chance for young players like Ben Bender, George Marks, Quinn McNeill, and Christian Makoun who are fighting for consistent places to earn future playing time. Andre Shinyashiki, who has seen his playing time shrink under Lattanzio, will also see these minutes as critical for proving his worth as more than just a late substitute option.
Club captain Christian Fuchs will surely get a run-out, likely from the start, to give fans a look at the former Premier League player and to help the younger players stay strong against a talented opponent.
Charlotte FC starting lineup (4-3-3): Kahlina (GK) — Fuchs, Corujo, Sobocinski, Lindsey – Bronico, Bender, Ruiz – Reyna, Swiderski, Gaines.
Charlotte FC subs (15): Sisniega (GK), Marks (GK), Walkes, Makoun, Santos, Afful, Mora, Alcivar, Hegardt, McNeill, Jones, Romero, Santos, Shinyashiki, Vargas.
In his pre-match press conference, Thomas Tuchel would not be drawn on who would play in this match, but he did give a few hints. It was thought likely based on Tuchel’s comments that fans will see new signing Raheem Sterling from the opening whistle, but he starts on the bench, still likely to get into the match at halftime. It’s too early for new defender Kalidou Koulibaly, who joined just days ago, to make an appearance.
American international Christian Pulisic got 45 minutes against Club America in Las Vegas on Saturday, coming on at halftime, and he starts from the get-go here in Charlotte. The USMNT star is fighting for a place in the crowded Chelsea attack, with the likes of Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, Mason Mount, and Michy Batshuayi all vying for minutes. It’s Ziyech to begin opposite Pulisic, with Batshuayi through the middle.
Marcos Alonso starts despite rumors of his imminent departure for Barcelona, while Cesar Azpilicueta, who also is thought to be heading to the Catalan club, begins on the bench. The defensive makeup is extremely wonky, with just Thiago Silva as the lone natural center-back. It remains to be seen how Reece James, Emerson, Alonso, and Callum Hudson-Odoi fit into the tactical makeup.
N’Golo Kante and Ruben Loftus-Cheek did not travel due to their vaccination status, while Ross Barkley is injured. Kepa Arrizabalaga, Timo Werner, Harvey Vale, and Billy Gilmour are healthy scratches and will not play.
Chelsea starting lineup (3-2-3-1): Mendy (GK) — James, Thiago Silva, Emerson — Jorginho, Kovacic — Ziyech, Pulisic, Hudson-Odoi, — Batshuayi.
Chelsea subs (11): Lowe (GK), Colwill, Sarr, Chalobah, Kenedy, Chilwell, Ampadu, Gallagher, Mount, Havertz, Sterling.
The club friendly between Charlotte FC and Chelsea from Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC can be viewed globally on ChelseaFC.com and the 5th Stand App.
In the United States, the match can be streamed on ESPN’s exclusive streaming service ESPN+ which requires a subscription.
As you can imagine, Chelsea are heavy favorites against Charlotte FC, especially after how badly Barcelona dismantled fellow MLS side Inter Miami just the night before. Still, the spread is just 1.5 goals, indicating that while many expect Chelsea to emerge victoriously, there is respect for the fight Charlotte are expected to put up. In contrast, Inter Miami was a 2.5 goal underdog against Barcelona before losing by six.
There is also a swing towards one team, likely Chelsea, to keep a clean sheet given that the “No” on Both Teams To Score is the predicted outcome (-138).
UK: Matches are carried across Sky Sports and BT Sport streaming and TV platforms, with select matches on Amazon Prime.
USA: Select matches are televised on USA Network (English) and Telemundo or Universo (Spanish), and all three channels can be streamed on fuboTV. The rest of the matches are streamed on NBC platform Peacock for subscribers.
Canada: Every Premier League game streams live and on demand exclusively via fuboTV.
Australia: Fans in Australia can stream matches live and on demand on Optus Sport.