Charlotte FC is out to prove they weren’t a one-hit wonder
Charlotte FC captured fans' hearts throughout the region during their inaugural season. Can they do it again?
Flashback: An MLS single-game record 74,479 fans gathered at Bank of America Stadium to witness Charlotte FC’s inaugural home match on March 5, 2022.
Driving the news: Charlotte FC’s second season kicks off on Feb. 25 at 7:30pm at Bank of America Stadium vs. New England Revolution.
- Charlotte beat New England 3-1 in their first MLS win last year. It was also at Bank of America Stadium.
Details: Tickets start at $15 for the opener.
- Expect a coronation before the match in the supporters’ section. Former Carolina Panther Steve Smith was the first for that tradition last year, sitting on a throne in the supporters’ section as a crown was placed on his head.
- Fans will continue to sing the national anthem, continuing a tradition started last year, when they picked it up after singer Michelle Brooks-Thompson’s mic cut out.
Why it matters: While they didn’t make the playoffs, Charlotte FC had an inaugural season that gave the city something to cheer for. Now it’s time to prove they weren’t a one-hit wonder with one of Major League Soccer’s best attendance records.
What they’re saying: The goal is to grow during the second season, team president Joe LaBue tells Axios. Skeptics attribute the first season’s success to the fact that it was shiny and new. Some expect the club to get smacked with a “dose of reality,” LaBue says.
- “We don’t think that’s the case at all,” he adds.
By the numbers: They had more than 24,000 season ticket holders during the first season, and they’re just under short of 24,000 heading into their second season, LaBue says.
- They want to beat last year’s average attendance of 35,244, LaBue says.
Zoom out: The team is also in the process of building its headquarters in east Charlotte, though not at the Eastland Mall site as originally planned. Instead they’ll call 8600 McAlpine Park Dr. home. The new HQ will include five full fields and a smaller field.
- Eventually, the entire club will be out there, from the academy to the first team and the business side.
- “The first team should be in the facility in late spring and the business side [should be there] shortly after,” LaBue said.
- The remaining fields will be finished a little later.
Catch up quick: Charlotte FC’s first season included firing its head coach. But the team seems to have found stability in Christian Lattanzio, who signed a two-year deal after filling in as interim head coach to finish out the inaugural season.
- Tragedy struck early in preseason. Defender Anton Walkes died in Florida where the team was training after boating accident. The team signed Portland defender Bill Tuiloma to fill Walkes’ role.
- Two key offseason signings: a third designated player, Argentine Enzo Copetti, and former English Premier League midfielder Ashley Westwood.
- Defender Christian Fuchs retired and joined the club as an assistant coach.
- Charlotte FC traded up for the first overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft to select Clemson defender Hamady Diop.
- Goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina will not be available for the season opener. He’s recovering from back surgery.
- Charlotte FC recently dropped a new kit. That’s a uniform, if you’re still a little fuzzy on soccer lingo.
- Crown Legacy FC, the MLS side’s younger sibling, kicks off this year.
Go deeper: 29 places to watch Charlotte FC
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