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Teen Lucas Hatsios grows up to join Charlotte Independence first team
Goalkeeper, 17, moves up in professional ranks
 
Published Monday, July 13, 2020 4:03 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

COURTESY CHARLOTTE INDEPENDENCE
Lucas Hatsios, 17, opened 2020 training with Real Salt Lake's academy but returned to Charlotte during the COVID-19 pandemic to sign with the Charlotte Independence.

Lucas Hatsios’ year has not gone as planned.


The Charlotte Independence SC academy product signed an academy contract with the USL Championship side of the same name. Pending league and federation approval, he will be eligible for their July 22 match at Miami FC – the first since the season paused on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


While Hatsios previously trained with the Independence, his year began training with the Real Salt Lake (Major League Soccer) academy before returning home due to the pandemic in March. It was Hatsios’s first time living by himself, and while the opportunity speaks for itself, it required sacrifice.


“It had its ups and downs,” he said. “Being that far away from home and being by myself, it was my first time doing anything like that. It took a ton of adjusting. COVID-19 brought me home. I’m more stoked to be back than I was out there.”


Hatsios’ time away from Charlotte allowed him to grow physically, but also with his level of play.

“We knew him from a couple years ago, and we were excited to have him back in the academy,” Charlotte coach Mike Jeffries said. “To be able to bring him in [with the first team] is a real plus. He’s done well.”

Hatsios joins goalkeepers Brandon Miller and Austin Pack, with Miller as the probable starter for the condensed season.

“[Miller] knows the club and the league in and out,” Hatsios said. “I look up to him tremendously.”

Said Miller of Hatsios: “He’s pretty used to the environment, but for him, it’s getting used to the habits of being a pro on and off the field. A lot of it is the mentality piece of it—being able to respond to mistakes, being able to move on from goals being scored on you. Also, being a 17-year-old and playing with guys who are older than you, he has to learn to communicate and commit to blocks the same way he would with the academy kids.”


Hatsios is one of four Independence academy players to sign with the first team this season. He is joined by defenders Joey Skinner and Owen Barber who signed prior to the season’s suspension, as well as Dylan Mitchiner, the most recent signing. All of them are focusing on adapting their playing style to the professional level.


“The more time you spend in training, the more you adapt to the style of play,” Hatsios said. “You look up to the bigger guys and follow their lead.”


Said Miller: “Getting that first taste of professional soccer during this extremely weird time, my main advice to them is just to focus on soccer as much as you can.  Focus on your long term goal of being a professional soccer player and reaching the highest level possible.”


Hatsios saw his potential to reach the next level when he began playing for the former U.S. Soccer Development Academy at age 13. Now he has his eyes on making the transition.
“After two games into the season, they pushed me up with the older group,” Hatsios said. “Once I got pushed up, it became a little more serious. By the end of the season, I got called into a U.S. national team camp. Once I got called into the national team camp, I knew I could potentially make it to the next level.”

While he is an Arsenal (English Premier League) fan, Hatsios does emulate the style of Manchester United’s David de Gea, whom he ran into in California last summer.


“I liked watching Arsenal as a kid, but it’s been a rough couple of kids,” Hatsios said. “I met [de Gea] once at the Santa Monica Pier in California. He was just riding a bike, and then he’s walking up the stairs, and I was like, ‘oh my gosh, that’s de Gea.’ He was wearing like a hoodie with glasses. No one was even surrounding him. I just walked up and started talking to him. It was crazy. The whole time I was stuttering. I asked for a picture. It was great.”

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