|Independence aim to shore up needs a week into training|
|Trialists culled as preseason roster forms|
|Published Monday, February 3, 2020 4:24 pm|
|PHOTO | LEROY HARDEN|
|The Charlotte Independence have narrowed the number of trialists a week into preseason training from 15 to six.|
The Charlotte Independence need a little bit of everything before the regular season kicks off.
The Jacks have a full week of training in, and while they have narrowed the field of trialists from 15 to six, coach Mike Jeffries knows a lot of work must be done between now and the regular season opener at Sporting Kansas City II on March 8.
“We cut [the trialists] down quite a bit from the 15,” Jeffries said. “The numbers are a little bit smaller. We’re still looking at guys who can contribute to our group. We’re trying to set a high bar for the guys who we would look to bring in.”
As Charlotte shapes its roster, a number of positions come to mind for Jeffries, with the exception of goalkeeper, a position veteran Brandon Miller has his name written all over.
“We are definitely looking at the back. We have a couple spots at the back we can fill,” Jeffries said. “Pretty much everywhere in some ways. Outside back, outside midfield to a small degree, some depth up front. I would say pretty much everywhere, except maybe goalkeeper.”
Charlotte’s current roster consists of 12 players, eight of whom played for the club last season. Returners include: Miller, defenders Clay Dimick, Joel Johnson and Hugh Roberts, midfielders Valentin Sabella, Jake Areman and Kevan George, as well as striker Enzo Martinez. The Jacks signed rookie defender Casey Penland and midfielder Oscar Ramsay as well as all-time USL Championship leading scorer Dane Kelly and midfielder Junior Etou.
Fitness remains the priority. Tactics will follow as preseason unfolds.
“We’re doing OK as far as building a base, and starting to get a fitness base,” Jeffries said. “We’re starting to put together some of the building blocks of how we want to play and what we want to do. We have to get the rest of the group in and start putting together a lot of the tactical pieces on both sides of the ball, and we haven’t gotten to that yet, at all.”
Preseason dates include: Feb. 12 vs. Tormenta FC (USL League One) in Columbia, S.C. at 5 p.m., North Carolina FC on Feb. 15 at the Sportsplex at 2 p.m., NISA club Stumptown Athletic on Feb. 19 at 11 a.m. at the Sportsplex, League One side Greenville Triumph SC on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. and at Atlanta United II on Feb. 29 at 2 p.m.
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