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Overview of Charlotte FC history

Since its inception, Charlotte FC has captured the hearts of soccer fans across the United States with its remarkable journey in Major League Soccer (MLS). Established on December 17, 2019, as the league’s 28th franchise, the club quickly made its mark both on and off the field, showcasing a blend of talent, passion, and ambition that has set it apart in American soccer.

Charlotte FC calls Bank of America Stadium its home ground, a venue it shares with the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League, both owned by David Tepper. The stadium’s seating capacity is typically reduced to 38,000 for most matches, creating an intimate and vibrant atmosphere for fans to enjoy the beautiful game.

2023 Season

In 2023, Charlotte FC entered its second season in Major League Soccer (MLS), the premier soccer division in the United States.

Led by Christian Lattanzio, who became head coach after serving as interim manager in the inaugural season, the team secured its first-ever MLS Cup Playoffs spot. However, their playoff journey ended with a loss to the New York Red Bulls in the wild-card round. Lattanzio was subsequently dismissed from his position at the season’s conclusion.

Ownership and Leadership

Charlotte FC is owned by David Tepper, a renowned businessman and philanthropist with a strong commitment to sports. Under his leadership, the club has flourished, attracting top-tier talent and building a solid foundation for success.

Joe LaBue serves as the club’s president, bringing a wealth of experience from his previous Carolina Panthers sales executive role. LaBue’s strategic vision and business acumen have been instrumental in shaping the club’s identity and ensuring its growth in the competitive MLS landscape.

Dean Smith, an Englishman with extensive experience in the Premier League, is set to lead Charlotte FC into the 2024 season and beyond. The 52-year-old former Premier League manager has signed a multi-year contract, pending receipt of his visa in December of last year.

Smith brings over ten years of managerial experience in the English football league system to Charlotte. Originally from the West Midlands, Smith is most notably recognized for guiding Aston Villa back to the Premier League in 2019. He was named Premier League Manager of the Month in December 2020. He oversaw Villa’s remarkable 7-2 victory over title holders Liverpool, marking the Reds’ highest goals conceded in a single match since 1963.

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Early Successes

From the outset, Charlotte FC set out to make a statement, and they did just that in their inaugural season. Despite a challenging start, including a 3-0 loss to D.C. United in their first MLS regular-season match, the team quickly found its rhythm and began to make waves in the league.

One of the season’s defining moments came in Charlotte FC’s home debut at Bank of America Stadium, where they faced off against the LA Galaxy. In front of a record-breaking crowd of 74,479 fans, Charlotte FC showcased their resilience and determination despite suffering a 1-0 loss. The match marked a significant milestone for the club, setting a new standard for attendance in MLS and solidifying their place in the hearts of soccer fans nationwide.

Key Players and Signings

A combination of seasoned veterans and emerging talents has driven Charlotte FC’s success. Spanish midfielder Sergio Ruiz, the club’s first signing, brought a wealth of experience from his time at Racing Santander. Although initially loaned out to UD Las Palmas, Ruiz’s impending arrival in Charlotte in January 2022 signaled the beginning of a new era for the club.

In 2021, Charlotte FC made headlines by signing Polish forward Karol Świderski as their first Designated Player. Świderski’s arrival added firepower to the team’s attack, and his impact was felt immediately on the field.

In the 2021 MLS Expansion Draft, Charlotte FC selected five players, including veteran defenders Anton Walkes, Joseph Mora, and winger McKenzie Gaines. These acquisitions bolstered the team’s defensive capabilities and provided depth in key positions.

Challenges and Triumphs

Like any expansion team, Charlotte FC faced its share of challenges in its inaugural season. The mid-season departure of head coach Miguel Ángel Ramírez due to conflicts with the front office presented a significant hurdle for the team. However, assistant coach Christian Lattanzio stepped up, leading the team gracefully.

Under Lattanzio’s guidance, Charlotte FC achieved several milestones, including their first away win against Houston Dynamo FC. The team’s resilience and determination were displayed throughout the season, culminating in a thrilling 2-2 draw with the Columbus Crew on the penultimate matchday.

Final Thoughts

As Charlotte FC looks to the future, the club is focused on building on its successes and establishing itself as a powerhouse in MLS. With a strong foundation, a passionate fan base, and a talented roster, the sky’s the limit for this young club. Charlotte FC’s first two seasons in MLS were a testament to the team’s resilience, determination, and passion for the game.

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