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Charlotte Independence adds prolific scorer Dane Kelly to the lineup
Jamaican forward has 77 goals in USL career
 
Published Monday, January 27, 2020 3:16 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

PHOTO | JAMES THOMAS
The Charlotte Independence signed Dane Kelly, the USL Championship's all-time scoring leader, for the 2020 campaign.

Dane Kelly has made a career as a defender’s nightmare.

The all-time leading USL Championship goal scorer has a new home with the Charlotte Independence. For the forward, it’s a different club, but the same mission. Score, score and score again. The-28-year-old Jamaican is the 12th player announced by the club, which began preseason training Monday at the Sportsplex at Matthews.

Kelly’s agent told him of the club’s interest, which was followed by a phone call from head coach and general manager Mike Jeffries.

“We spoke for like 25 minutes, and the conversation went well,” Kelly said. “After that, they sent over a contract to my agent, and I signed it.”

Kelly leads the league with 77 regular season goals – 10 last year with Indy Eleven – and five in the post season. In 2018, he played for D.C. United in MLS. Kelly also earned his first call-up to the Jamaican national team, where he has since scored two goals in four appearances. His prolific 18-goal season with Reno 1868 in 2017 earned him USL MVP as well as the Golden Boot. Most of Kelly’s career has taken place in Charleston (2011-15), followed by a season with Swope Park Rangers. His made his professional debut in 2010 with Jamaica’s Tivoli Gardens.

“I’ve been playing against Dane for years,” Independence center back Hugh Roberts said. “I can go way back to my rookie year in Richmond, played against him in Charleston for my first two seasons, and I was a young boy battling against him. It’s always been a battle. He scored a bunch of goals on us in Richmond—even against him in Indy last year, he’s always a handful. You have to check your shoulders every single moment. Every time there is a counterattack, he’s the first one out. There’s literally 90 minutes of pure work. To finally have him on my side is a good thing.”

Said striker Enzo Martinez: “The first few minutes that you play with someone new, you kind of read a lot on what they do. I love what he brings into the team, and I know he’s going to be a player who scores a lot of goals for us, and most importantly that he fits into the style and what we’re trying to build.”

Jeffries brought Kelly in for his ability to score, as statistics attest. Kelly intends to score 20 goals this season, which opens on March 8 at Sporting Kansas City II.

“The role part is easy—he’s here to score goals, to lead the line for us,” Jeffries said. “He gives us an explosive, dynamic presence up front—a player who has been a great player in and around the goal throughout his career. [He’s] a guy who can run in behind, create chances, can unsettle defenses a little bit. We’re very excited to have him. We think he’ll be a big part of what we do going forward.”

Said Kelly: “They have a lot of experienced players, like Enzo Martinez, who have been here for a while. So I think scoring goals for them, I’m going to be pretty good this season.”

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