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Charlotte FC's youth movement: The Crown's prospects have become the key contributors

By Brian Maurer

Patrick Agyemang (left), Kerwin Vargas (right), and Brecht Dejaegere (background) celebrate Agyemang's goal against Nashville SC

Dean Smith has come to Charlotte FC and immediately made his impression on the team and fanbase. One of the traits about Smith that has stood out the most is his willingness to look only at the player and not at their age or roster designation. This has led to three Designated Players being let go within his first 11 games as head coach. 

Many young players have gotten ample opportunity under Smith. 11 of the 22 players that Smith has used this season are 24 or younger (U24). U24 players have accounted for roughly 42% of all of Charlotte’s minutes played this season.

American Soccer Analysis currently shows Charlotte FC players over 24 with 7,893 minutes played. Charlotte players 24 or younger have 5,725 minutes played.

While they account for fewer minutes than Charlotte’s veteran players, they have accounted for the majority of the Crown’s attacking volume. According to American Soccer Analysis, Charlotte’s U24s account for around 59% of the team’s expected goal contributions (xG+xA).

Charlotte FC players over 24 have contributed 9.08 xG+xA. Players 24 or under have contributed 13.09.

That attacking volume is likely going to favor the U24s even more once Liel Abada gets healthy and ideally becomes one of the focal points in Charlotte’s attack. Currently, Brecht Dejaegere is the only veteran who has been getting consistent minutes in an attacking role, now that Enzo Copetti has been transferred out.

On the defensive end, Andrew Privett and Adilson Malanda have helped Charlotte allow the least amount of attacking volume against (12.3 xGA) in the Eastern Conference (EC). Their xGA is good for second in MLS only behind the Houston Dynamo.

Smith will be leaning even more heavily on the youth of his roster in the weeks ahead, as reinforcements won’t be available until the summer window opens on July 18. Patrick Agyemang (23), Kerwin Vargas (22), Nikola Petković (21), Tyger Smalls (21), and Iuri Tavares (23) will all play important offensive roles over the next two months if Charlotte maintains their current club-best starting pace. Defensively, Smith will continue to rely on the center-back duo of Privett (23) and Malanda (22) to stabilize the backline.