Daniel Rios scored all four of Charlotte's goals as they thrashed the Philadelphia Union 4-0 to put a major dent in their Supporters' Shield hopes.
Rios scored a second-half hat-trick as he condemned the Union to their heaviest defeat of the season. Things went from bad to worse for the Union in the second half as Kai Wagner was sent off for a second yellow card. Nuno Santos' shot bounced up and accidentally hit the hand of a sliding Wagner, but the referee still gave the German his marching orders.
Jim Curtin made one change to the team that drew in Atlanta as Nathan Harriel came into the starting XI in the place of Olivier Mbaizo, who dropped to the bench.
Kristijan Kahlina was injured in the warm-up for Charlotte, so Pablo Sisniega was the man to start in goal.
It was a quiet opening to the game as both sides struggled to create an opportunity. Jose Martinez tried his luck from distance with a speculative effort. After a Kai Wagner corner was cleared, the ball sat nicely for Martinez to strike it first time. However, his shot was nowhere near the goal as Sisniega was left untested.
In the 24th minute, Daniel Rios gave Charlotte the lead. Karol Swiderski played a pass to Kamil Jozwiak, which was too wide for the winger. When Joziwiak got onto the pass, he found himself in space as he got his head up and passed the ball towards the six-yard box. Rios was the quickest to react as he got on the end of the pass to slot it beyond Andre Blake and into the back of the net.
Daniel Gazdag had Philadelphia's first shot on target as he forced Sisniega into a save. The opportunity to shoot from distance opened up for the Hungarian as he tried his luck. Gazdag's shot had plenty of power, but it was at a comfortable height for the Charlotte goalkeeper as he made the save.
Brandt Bronico had a good opportunity to make it two for the hosts. A cross into the box allowed Bronico to get his head on the end of it as he was free inside the box. Fortunately for the Union, it went over the bar.
HALF-TIME: Charlotte 1-0 Philadelphia Union
In the 54th minute, Rios scored his and Charlotte's second. The hosts got the ball inside the penalty area as Jozwiak passed it to Rios. He did well to turn past Leon Flach before drilling his shot beyond Blake, who had no chance of making the save.
Jack Elliott had a good chance for Philadelphia after the hour mark. A corner was headed in the direction of Elliott, who headed the ball goalward, but it went just wide of the target.
Things got worse for Philadelphia as Charlotte were awarded a penalty, and Wagner was shown his second yellow card. Nuno Santos tried to shoot across the goal but did not make clear contact with his shot as it bounced up. That worked in the host's favour as it hit the arm of the sliding Wagner, who was trying to block the effort. Due to it hitting his arm, the referee awarded a penalty and gave the German left back his marching orders.
Rios stepped up to take the spot kick and completed his hat-trick. Blake guessed the right way, but Rios' penalty was just out of reach for the Union goalkeeper.
Rios had his fourth in stoppage time. McKinze Gaines played the ball towards the six-yard box, and Rios was the quickest to react as he slotted the ball into an empty net.
FULL-TIME: Charlotte 4-0 Philadelphia Union
Charlotte: Sisniega, Byrne, Malanda, Walkes, Afful, Bronico (Santos 66'), Jones, Swiderski (Shinyashiki 80'), Vargas (Gaines 74'), Rios, Jozwiak (Alcivar 80')
Unused Substitutes: Sobocinski, Reyna, Mora, McNeill
Philadelphia Union: Blake, Harriel, Glesnes, Elliott (Real 81'), Wagner, Martinez, McGlynn (Aaronson 59'), Flach, Gazdag, Carranza (Sullivan 75'), Uhre (Burke 59')
Unused Substitutes: Freese, Mbaizo, Odada, Donovan, Craig