CHARLOTTE, N.C. — There’s a degree of pomp and circumstance when it comes to Charlotte FC and a home match at Bank of America Stadium.
But professional soccer doesn’t begin and end with the Crown, two miles up the road at Memorial Stadium you’ll find the Charlotte Independence, they’ve been around since 2014 and still have a lot to offer despite the MLS being in town.
“So I think they have an awesome thing with averaging 30,000 fans,” Independence defender Clay Dimick said. “Coming to Memorial Stadium to see the Independence it’s a small feel, it can be a great night, great atmosphere. Cheaper tickets, it’s a good level of soccer and the team is going to interact with you.”
It’s essentially a brand new team this season too, the Jacks have just three returning players from a squad that picked up their first playoff win in franchise history last year. The youth movement is now in full effect highlighted by 17 year old Charlotte native Brayden Keenan who will get to play pro soccer and he’s only a junior in high school.
“It’s always been my dream,” midfielder Brayden Keenan said. “I’m glad it came so early, and still being young I get to learn from a lot of great players out here.”
The Independence will play in USL League One this season a step down from the better competition in USL Championship, but the move will now allow for much more development of young and emerging talent.
“I think players that play in League One, by and large are guys that want to graduate,” head coach Mike Jeffries said. “And we went to help push them to graduate and get on to higher levels.”
“I think it’s the perfect stepping stone for a young player like myself,” Keenan said. “You have great facilities like this and being so close to Charlotte FC you’re also learning from people that are even better than the level you’re at right now.”
From playing for the Jacks to maybe one day starring in Europe, soccer’s future starts with the Independence.