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Charlotte FC signs Australian midfielder Riley McGree
Second player to join MLS expansion side
 
Published Monday, October 5, 2020 7:30 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

COURTESY CHARLOTTE FC
Australian Riley McGree, a midfielder on loan to Birmingham City in the English Football League Championship, has signed with Charlotte FC.

Charlotte FC went Down Under for their second signing.

Australian attacking midfielder Riley McGree signed with the club on Oct. 5, transfer deadline day for clubs across Europe. McGree’s addition is pending international clearance. He is on loan to Birmingham City in the English Football League Championship—that country’s second division.

Charlotte Sporting Director Zoran Krneta said they would send players on loan to the Spanish Segunda Division or Championship leading up to their inaugural season in 2022. Both McGree and fellow midfielder Sergio Ruiz, whom Charlotte signed in July, are on loan with their respective clubs. Ruiz remained in Segunda, as the Spaniard is on loan with Las Palmas, and McGree’s move was announced by Birmingham City today, where he will remain for the 2020-21 season.

“Riley is a young international player who has already proven to be an impressive goal scorer,” Krneta said in a statement. “We are building our team with young talent that matches the aggressive style of play, and intensity in the game, that our fans will love to watch. Riley is a perfect fit for us, and we are thrilled to secure his signature for Charlotte FC with so many clubs in Europe fighting for him. His loan move to Birmingham City in England’s Championship, one of the top competitive soccer leagues in the world, will help Riley get to the top of his game and ready for our start in 2022.”

McGree, 21, is a product of Adelaide United in the Australian A-League. He is best known for his scorpion kick goal, which he scored while on loan with the Newcastle Jets. It earned him a nomination for the 2018 FIFA Puskas Award, which annually highlights the most beautiful goal regardless of league or division. He became the first A-League player to be nominated for the award.

“Riley has a unique profile for a midfielder,” Charlotte FC Director of Scouting Thomas Schaling said. “The goal scoring ability in his game is obvious. He plays with a lot of depth without the ball and understands how and where to position himself in front of goal. He’s well known in Australia’s A-League and we’ve been scouting him for a long time.”

As a professional, McGree has scored 26 goals in 89 matches, making 71 starts. He joined Adelaide United’s youth academy in 2014 and was promoted to the first team in 2016. His contract was purchased by Belgian Pro League side Club Brugge, but eventually returned to Australia and spent a stint on loan with Melbourne City. Last season with Adelaide United, he was named the Hyundai A-League Young Footballer of the Year, club most valuable player, and the club’s leading goal scorer. “I’m so excited to be part of something special with Charlotte FC,” McGree said. “The opportunity to play in a fast-growing league like MLS is perfect for me and I’ll give everything I have to make our fans proud. After speaking with Zoran and learning about the club’s ambitions and goals, I couldn’t be more thrilled to join this team.”

McGree also captained Australia’s U-23 national team. In 2017, he earned a call up to the senior national team ahead of a pair of 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. However, he also received a national team suspension during the Asia Football Confederation’s U-23 championship in 2019, which ran through April. Suspensions were given by the Football Federation Australia for “unprofessional conduct” following a woman’s complaint to teammates Nathaniel Atkinson, Lachlan Wales and Brandon Wilson, who were suspended through Aug. 10.

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