One of the highlights of Charlotte FC’s inaugural season in Major League Soccer is the style infused by coach Miguel Ángel Ramírez. Or, it was. Before Ramirez could manage his 15th game, the team fired him on Tuesday. It’s a curious move as Charlotte has had a pretty good start to life in MLS, even after Ramírez expressed his displeasure with the roster that was built up over the summer.
Karol Swiderski had visa problems, Kamil Jozwiak’s first attempt to sign Kamil Jozwiak was delayed due to his injury and the attempt to sign Darwin Machis from Granada failed. It was frustrating but Ramírez didn’t let that stop him from building a unit that would pull off streaks with 10 or more assists that are rarely seen in MLS with regularity. Playing at the back may have burned the team at times, like in a 2-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union in early April, but at most points it was a strength that put the team just two points from a playoff berth. . At the time of Ramírez’s dismissal, Charlotte had 18 points with a 5-1-8 record.
For a team that was expected to be near the bottom of the Eastern Conference in its inaugural season, its success came down to good training as well as strong performances from Ben Bender and Kristijan Kahlina. In Charlotte’s statement about the dismissal, one quote stood out in particular.
“We appreciate the contributions of Miguel and his team to our club, and wish them well in their careers,” said Zoran Krneta, Sporting Director of Charlotte FC. “We are delighted with this opportunity for Christian. He is a very experienced manager who has had a huge impact on our team this season.”
Krneta acknowledged what Ramírez has done well at the helm of the team, but it looks like a situation where it goes beyond the head coach. To dig into this, we have to recap that Charlotte recently lost key personnel in its front office. Their technical director Marc Nicholls left for the Columbus Crew in January. Their club chairman Nick Kelly has also stepped down to take up a new role as CEO of Tepper Sports.
Want even more coverage of the global game? Listen below and follow ¡Qué Golazo! A daily CBS football podcast where we take you beyond the field and around the world for commentary, previews, recaps and more.
For a club that has just joined the league, losing everyone responsible for creating its vision before the middle of its inaugural season, it is difficult for the coaching staff to have a say in transfers. It was probably something that caused frustration as it has bubbled up with Ramírez in the past. Still, letting go of a good manager is a luxury an expansion club does not have, as failure in the first season can be difficult to bounce back from.
A lot was happening on the pitch and now, in transition, Charlotte will have to make sure it’s not lost. Assistant coach Christian Lattanzio will be caretaker manager for the rest of the season and he may retain some of the goodness of their style of play, but a lot of the first-team staff have left. Assistant coach Mikel Antía, head physical trainer Cristobal Fuentes Nieto and first-team video analyst Luis Piedrahita have all left the club.
Fan support and some of the players are there to succeed in Charlotte, but the front office will have to make sure they don’t get in the way. At least they won’t play another game until June 11, but since it will be against the New York Red Bulls, it will be quite a test.