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Charlotte FC v Philadelphia Union: Glass half full for Byrne


Nathan Byrne says Dean Smith’s initiative of gifting players bottles of wine when they keep a clean sheet has provided him with plenty of motivation, as the Crown target a fifth successive shutout against the Philadelphia Union.

Charlotte have kept four straight clean sheets in MLS play, playing out a goalless draw with the LA Galaxy last time out after wins over the Portland Timbers (2-0), Nashville SC and the Chicago Fire (both 1-0).

Smith has been rewarding his players for each shutout with a bottle of wine, and Byrne hopes there is plenty more forthcoming.

“It depends if you like wine or not, but for me it’s definitely an added incentive. He’s behind on his payments,” Byrne joked. “We’ve got enough as it is.

“It helps when there’s consistency and the same players learning each other’s games every week. We have less individual duels as we can back each other up.

“If you play consistently, you’re going to grow in confidence, especially when you’re keeping clean sheets and getting good results.”

Charlotte are sixth in the Eastern Conference standings, four points clear of eighth-placed Philadelphia.

The Union ended a six-game winless streak by beating the New England Revolution 3-0 last time out, and coach Jim Curtin hopes that result will be a turning point for his side.

Curtin said: “It’s a justification for how hard these guys have been working, because we’re still the same group right?

“I’m still the same coach, these are still the same players. When they get confident and they get going, we can beat anybody.”



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