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Sabella makes an impression on Charlotte Independence
Rookie midfielder lauded for work rate, defense
 
Published Wednesday, July 10, 2019 5:02 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

CHARLOTTE INDEPENDENCE
Independence midfielder Valentin Sabella, 19, has impressed his new team with his work rate and commitment to defense.

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The Charlotte Independence are unbeaten since signing Valentin Sabella.

The 19-year-old midfielder landed on Charlotte’s radar when the UPSL Florida Soccer Soldiers knocked them out of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on May 14. Sabella joined the Jacks on June 7, five days prior to the exit of previous head coach Jim McGuinness, whom general manager Mike Jeffries replaced. Charlotte (4-7-8, 19 points, 11th in USL Championship East), which hosts Saint Louis July 13, is on a six-game unbeaten run, including three home wins.

“It all started after my game in the Open Cup against Charlotte,” said Sabella, who scored in extra time to take the game to penalties. Charlotte operations manager “Auggie Ruiz spoke to me after the game. He was like, ‘finish celebrating, and let me get your contact information.’ From there it was constant back and forth, talking and negotiation with my agent, the club, me. Two weeks after the Open Cup game in Charlotte, I ended up being here.”

Sabella has appeared in three games with the Independence, tallying 116 minutes.

“It was my first month anniversary in Charlotte, because I arrived June 6,” Sabella said. “It’s been awesome since the first day in training, and the weeks leading up to every single game. As soon as I arrived, I got my first call up [to the 18-man roster]. I didn’t get any minutes, but I was kind of thrown into things. It’s just been awesome. I can’t complain.”

Sabella earned his first start a week after his professional debut, both of which were at home. Charlotte won both games 1-0 against Memphis and Pittsburgh, respectively. A win against Saint Louis would vault the Independence to 10th in the East, the final playoff spot.

“Valentin is a great kid,” Independence midfielder Alex Martinez said. “He’s from Argentina, and me being from Uruguay and the other guys being Spanish guys, we kind of hang out a lot. It’s just getting him acclimated into the group and making him one of us has made him feel comfortable on the field as well as in the group. We’re happy for him, and we’re glad he was able to start and contribute to [the Pittsburgh] win.”

Said Jeffries: “Valentin, to his credit, has stepped up. He’s been really good in training. He’s come into the games that he’s been in and had an impact. His work rate and willingness to do some of the dirty work defensively is a plus for him, and he’s always capable of pulling off a play. He’s another guy who has some creative ideas.”

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