Dec 12, 2023 - News

Charlotte FC hires Dean Smith as next head coach

Dean Smith, center, has been named Charlotte FC's next head coach. Photo: Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 27: John McGinn, Jack Grealish, Dean Smith, Manager of Aston Villa, and Anwar El Ghazi of Aston Villa celebrate with the Sky Bet Championship Play-off Final Trophy following their team's victory in the Sky Bet Championship Play-off Final match between Aston Villa and Derby County at Wembley Stadium on May 27, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images)

The name Dean Smith is synonymous with North Carolina basketball. But now, there’s a new Dean Smith in town.

Driving the news: Charlotte FC signed Smith, an English soccer coach, to a multi-year deal. The team’s third head coach in club history, Smith will address the media on Monday at Charlotte FC’s new headquarters, Atrium Health Performance Park.

Catch up quick: The Major League Soccer team fired Christian Lattanzio, the club’s second head coach, in November. Charlotte sacked their inaugural head coach Miguel Ángel Ramírez less than a year after hiring him and halfway through the team’s first season.

Why it matters: Tepper Sports & Entertainment, which owns Charlotte FC and the Carolina Panthers, has struggled to keep personnel in place since billionaire David Tepper bought the Panthers in 2018.

  • Tepper’s also looking for his first winning season with either team.
  • Charlotte FC made the playoffs, but was obliterated 5-2 in the play-in game by New York Red Bulls. They also struggled with conceding late goals during the regular season.

Details: This will be Smith’s first time coaching outside of England, where he worked in one of the most competitive leagues in the sport.

While he doesn’t bring MLS experience, he does have ample experience as a head coach, something Lattanzio and Ramírez lacked.

  • Smith’s previous stops include: Walsall, Brentford, Aston Villa, Norwich City and most recently Leicester City.
  • He led Aston Villa to Premier League promotion in 2019 and was with the club until November 2021.

Zoom out: A perk of taking the Charlotte job is Smith’s proximity to his son, Jamie Smith. The younger Smith, who played for Limestone and NC State in college, now plays professionally in USL League One (third division soccer) for Greenville Triumph in South Carolina.

What they’re saying: “Throughout the interview process, it was clear that this is an ambitious club with the right ingredients for success and I’m delighted to begin a new chapter in Charlotte,” Smith said in a statement. “This is a unique opportunity to be part of a project with so much potential to take to new heights in Major League Soccer.”

What’s next: The MLS SuperDraft is Tuesday, Dec. 19. Charlotte traded this year’s first round pick to Colorado to select forward Patrick Agyemang No. 12 overall in last year’s draft.

  • Of note: Charlotte had the first overall pick ahead of their inaugural season in 2022, selecting Ben Bender. They also traded up for the first overall pick last year, taking defender Hamady Diop.
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