|Charlotte Independence looking for gems at annual player combine|
|Collegians and pros get a look Dec. 10-12|
|Published Wednesday, December 6, 2017 6:45 pm|
|PHOTO | PAUL WILLIAMS III|
|The Charlotte Independence and Colorado Rapids are hosting a player combine Dec. 10-12 in Matthews. Sixty-five collegiate and professional players are expected to participate.|
It’s combine time for the Charlotte Independence.
The United Soccer League club hosts its annual player combine Dec. 10-12 at the Sportsplex in Matthews in affiliation with the Colorado Rapids, their Major League Soccer affiliate.
“Colorado comes in and works with us, and evaluates players,” Independence coach Mike Jeffries said. “It helps them with maybe getting a better sense of some of the potential draft picks for down the road as well. They get to see some young players and some young professionals.”
Sixty-five people are scheduled to participate on Sunday. Approximately 60 players tried out last December—notably a mixture of collegiate athletes from the Charlotte 49ers, 2016 Division II national champions Wingate and 2015 Division II champions Pfeiffer.
“We’ve got college guys from throughout the country—probably mostly East and South,” Jeffries said. “We’ve got a fair number of guys this year who have professional experience—whether it’s from USL or international leagues. It should be quite a good level.”
Last season Charlotte signed Wingate midfielder Callum Ross, whose second-year contract option has been picked up. Midfielder Lewis Hilton joined the Jacks from the previous year’s trials.
“This is now the third year,” Jeffries said. “It’s a little different. The first year was a lot of professional guys. We got a few guys from that one, and everything was wide open. The last two years we’ve ended up signing one player directly each time, and then a couple of other guys we’ve kept in touch with and brought in. We’ll make decisions pretty quickly on guys.”
Charlotte has announced the return of three players from 2017—striker Enzo Martinez, midfielder Alex Martinez and defender Joel Johnson. The Independence intends to keep their core as intact as possible.
“We’re in conversations to keep guys here, and keep the core of the group together,” Jeffries said. “There’s always opportunities. We’re going to have some turnover. There’s going to be opportunities for new guys to come in and sign and be looked at, and maybe a little more in 2018 than what we had in 2017.”
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