Charlotte FC takes down Premier League giant Chelsea FC in first international friendly

By Daniel Coston

July 21, 2022

Charlotte FC’s match against Chelsea, one of the top teams of England’s Premier League, had been a very good game as it approached its final minutes. The rain and lightning that held the match up for over an hour did not keep over 52,000 fans from being a part of Charlotte FC’s first international friendly. 

Despite Chelsea star Christian Pulisic giving his team a 1-0 lead in the first half capitalizing off a deflected shot from striker Michy Batshuayi, Charlotte did not wither or give up. Charlotte FC goalie Kristijan Kahlina kept the game close with several saves, as the team continued to try and break through Chelsea’s stout defense, coming close with a couple shots on goal. Nearing the 90th minute, it appeared that Charlotte FC would be able to say that they had fought proudly against one of England’s top teams. 

16-year-old Charlotte FC Academy player Brian Romero after drawing a penalty kick for a handball in the 90th minute. Photo Daniel Coston

Then in the 89th minute, Charlotte sent 16-year-old Charlotte FC Academy player Brian Romero onto the field as a last-minute substitute to a resounding applause. Less than a minute later, Romero corralled the ball and fearlessly streaked towards the goal. His shot was blocked by the hand of Chelsea defender, Trevoh Chalobah, and Charlotte was awarded a penalty kick. 

Charlotte FC’s Daniel Rios preparing to take a penalty kick in the 92nd minute. Photo: Daniel Coston

For a couple of minutes, many in the stadium did not seem to breathe. When Daniel Rios sent the penalty kick into the net, the crowd not only exhaled, it exploded. Charlotte FC and their fans had not only been given new life, the match was slingshot into penalty kicks. A valiant effort is always nice, but the prospect of winning is way more fun.


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After trading penalty kicks, substitute goalkeeper Pablo Sisneiga stopped a weak Chelsea kick by Conor Gallagher, and the crowd erupted again. Despite not having to take many penalty kicks in match play in their inaugural season, Charlotte FC did not falter. When Kamil Józwiak scored the final goal, his teammates rushed together in celebration, and many throughout the stadium did just the same.

The moments after the game produced its own series of remarkable memories. Brian Romero was embraced by his teammates, followed by his family, shedding a few tears. Pulisic and his teammates signed autographs for fans, and smiled as they accepted Carolina Panthers jerseys. Media and Charlotte FC staffers flooded the field with delirium cherishing the moment of watching the hometown club beat a Premier League team. Something that many of us will never forget, especially Brian Romero. 

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