|Charlotte Independence open season with preseason training|
|New coaches, players adjust in first workouts|
|Published Friday, February 8, 2019 1:33 pm|
|Keeper Brandon Miller is one of the holdovers from the 2018 Charlotte Independence, who opened preseason training this week.|
Jim McGuinness’ first preseason training with the Charlotte Independence has kicked off.
The first-time USL Championship head coach took over in December, with former coach Mike Jeffries shifting to general manager. They also added assistant coaches Dave Dixon, who spent last season with Indy Eleven, as well as Felix Sarriugarte.
The club opens its fifth campaign on March 15 against Indy Eleven at the Sportsplex at Matthews. The Independence have eight players signed, as well as 2018 MAC Herman Trophy winner Andrew Gutman, who is on loan from Scottish side Celtic.
“Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be adding a lot to our squad,” McGuinness said. “We’ve set at standard over the last couple of days in terms of our meetings and in terms of our first training session that everybody coming into the group now will understand sort of where they are at, and that is very, very important.”
Said Jeffries: “It has been an interesting adaptation. More time on the office end and on the computer than the rest of my life for sure. It’s been good. I’m enjoying the role. It’s certainly been a challenge with bringing staff on board, especially a staff that hasn’t yet worked in the U.S. or with USL. It’s been interesting, and obviously we have been pressed a little bit for time with Jim coming on late and getting in here late with the visa process.”
Key for Charlotte in the attacking third is the return of striker Enzo Martinez, who spent last season with MLS side Colorado Rapids. When his time ended there, Independence owner Jim McPhilliamy reached out.
“Jim personally came and he made it known that he wanted me back,” Martinez said. “Obviously great things are happening with the club with the new stadium, new coach—a lot of changes for the positive. Coming back here and being able to lend a small hand in a bigger picture is important to me.”
Said goalkeeper Brandon Miller: “You’ve got Enzo coming in, who has been here before. He has played at a high level; he’s going to bring a high level to the group. It’s a good way to build. We’re starting small and we’re going to add pieces to the group that help the group, and bring the level even higher.”
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