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Crown Legacy FC 2024 Preview

By Brian Maurer




Head Coach José Tavares is getting Crown Legacy FC ready for their second season after a successful inaugural campaign. Legacy won the Eastern Conference in 2023 before losing 1-0 in the playoffs to Columbus Crew 2.


Team President Darrius Barnes was named Executive of the Year for his work in 2023. Defender João Pedro was named to the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro Best XI.


Four players earned first-team contracts; Iuri Tavares, Nikola Petković, Pedro, and Chituru Odunze. Tavares has started in all three of Charlotte FC’s games and has scored his first MLS goal. Petković and Pedro have both made their MLS debuts.


Charlotte FC-signed Nimfasha Berchimas and Patrick Agyemang were regulars for Crown Legacy in 2023 and have now become a part of Dean Smith’s first-team rotation in 2024.


Legacy’s 2023 captain David Poreba returned to Polish side Stal Mielic before being loaned to Chicago Fire II where he will likely face off against Crown Legacy in 2024.


The 2024 season brings another exciting change as the Charlotte area development team will participate in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup in place of Charlotte FC. Their first US Open Cup match-up will be on March 21st vs. South Carolina United Heat.


Legacy has several players returning for 2024. There are also several new faces from abroad and from the college level. As well as a Charlotte FC Academy graduate. 


Here is a list of all the players signed to a Crown Legacy FC contract for the 2024 season:


Goalkeepers


Isaac Walker (Age: 23) - GK - Returnee


The 2023 MLS Goalie Wars Champion returns for his second season with Legacy. In 2023, Walker earned 18 starts with 14 wins.


Nicholas Holliday (18) - GK - Previous club: North Carolina FC


Holliday was signed from NCFC where he had 27 appearances in all competitions during his time with the club from Cary. A special note: Holliday’s contract includes a guaranteed future contract with Charlotte FC. “We see plenty of potential in Nicholas, thanks to his development with North Carolina FC, and we look forward to his progression through MLS NEXT Pro to the First Team in the coming years,” said Charlotte FC Assistant General Manager Bobby Belair.


Defenders


Willian Sangoquiza (18) - CB - Previous club: América de Quito


Sangoquiza was signed on a one-year loan from the Ecuadorian side América de Quito. He will also fill an international roster spot. There is a purchase option in his contract. The Ecuadorian had 14 appearances and two goals for Quito. “Willian is a young, high-upside center back that has played first-team football in multiple positions which highlights his unique skill set for his age,” said Belair. He is primarily a center-back but has also played right-back and in midfield.


Julian Bravo (23) - CB - Previous club: Timbers 2


Bravo was signed from Timbers 2 where he had 27 MLS NEXT Pro appearances in 2023. He also had two goals during the 2023 campaign. The center-back will come to Crown Legacy with multiple years of professional experience since being drafted by the Portland Timbers in 2022.


Assane Souleymane Ouedraogo (18) - LCB - Previous club: FC San Pedro


Ouedraogo was signed on a permanent transfer and will occupy an international roster spot with Crown Legacy. “As a left-footed center-back, Assane possesses rare talent with characteristics we are looking for on both sides of the ball. We are looking forward to seeing how quickly Assane can progress in our competitive environment,” said Belair. The defender was signed from Ivory Coast side FC San Pedro. He has also featured for the Ivory Coast National Team at the U-23 level.


Jean-Aniel Assi (19) - RB - Previous club: CF Montréal


Assi was signed as a free agent. The Ivory Coast native was originally signed to a homegrown contract by CF Montréal in 2020 and has been on loan for the past two seasons in the Canadian Premier League. He also has experience playing for the Canadian Youth National Team, most recently in the 2022 CONCACAF U-20 Championship.


Midfielders


Philip Mayaka (23) - DM - Returnee


Mayaka was a key defensive midfielder for Legacy in 2023, earning 26 starts. He will likely be depended on regularly again in 2024 after the former first-round SuperDraft pick had his option exercised.


Cameron Duke (22) - CM - Previous club: Sporting Kansas City


Duke will add MLS experience to the Crown Legacy roster. He has 54 appearances for SKC with 22 starts. He has five goal contributions (2g/3a) in his MLS career.“Cameron is an exciting young midfielder with dynamism and versatility,” said Belair. The Kansas native rose through the SKC academy with Charlotte FC full-back Jaylin Lindsey and will be looking to earn an opportunity to rejoin his former USYNT teammate on the first team.


Brandon Parrish (22) - CM - Previous club: Clemson University


Parrish brings championship pedigree from the college ranks. He has been a part of two NCAA Championship wins during his time at Clemson and will look to show that his ability to his club win translates to the professional level at Crown Legacy FC. “Brandon is a high-potential midfielder who proved his talent during his four seasons at Clemson,” said Belair.


Erik Peña (18) - CM - Previous club: Charlotte FC Academy


Peña made Charlotte FC history becoming the first Academy graduate to sign an MLS NEXT Pro contract with Legacy. “We are extremely proud of Erik to be the first player to take this pathway, and we look forward to watching him grow and be an example for the rest of our Academy,” said Belair. Peña made 12 appearances and earned two starts with Legacy as an academy prospect in 2023.


Thiago (21) - Midfielder - Returnee


Thiago was a rotational midfielder for Crown Legacy last season, earning 18 appearances with eight starts, scoring once in 2023. He will be aiming to carve out a larger role in 2024 as several starters have now moved on.


Filip Mirkovic (22) - AM - University of Pittsburgh


Mirkovic was signed by Crown Legacy as a free agent after he was drafted by Orlando City 54th overall in the 2024 SuperDraft. The attacking midfielder spent four years at the University of Pittsburgh and accrued 28 assists, which is a record for Pittsburgh Men’s soccer. He’s also a two-time First Team All-ACC. “His elite vision, passing ability and leadership makes him an exciting prospect that will further strengthen our midfield core. We are excited to watch Filip develop in our environment as he begins his professional career,” said Belair.


Forwards


Gurman Sangha (24) - Winger - Returnee


Sangha was a rotational winger for Crown Legacy in 2023, earning 12 appearances with four starts. He, like Thiago, will be looking to have a bigger impact in 2024 with several key attacking pieces moving on.


Josué Rodrigues (19) - Winger - Returnee


Rodrigues earned 14 appearances with one start in 2023, also scoring once during the campaign. He will be looking to earn a larger role in 2024 alongside Sangha and Thiago.


Markó Filipovic (24) - Striker - Returnee


Filipovic earned 16 appearances with three starts. He had four goal contributions (3g/1a) in 450 minutes and will likely be looking to take over as the primary scoring threat since Agyemang and Tavares were both promoted to the first team.


Jack Sarkos (23) - Striker - Previous club: UCLA


Sarkos was signed as a free agent. He had 15 appearances for UCLA this past season making 11 goal contributions (9g/2a). “His success at the collegiate level has made him a highly touted prospect that we believe can develop rapidly in our system. After being courted by several MLS NEXT Pro clubs, we are thrilled to announce the signing of Jack and assist him with the next step of his career,” said Belair. Before joining UCLA, Sarkos played for Lehigh University where he earned First-Team Patriots League honors twice.


Dylan Sing (23) - Striker - Previous club: Western Michigan University


Sing was a standout performer at Western Michigan earning 90 career appearances and had 56 goal contributions (34g/22a) in that time. In 2023, he had 25 goal contributions (17g/8a) in 23 matches, earning him the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year award.


Jonathan Nyandjo (21) - Striker - Previous club: UNC-Charlotte

 

Nyandjo was on trial with the club during the preseason and earned his MLS NEXT Pro contract after impressing during trials. “We are proud to add another local talent to our squad and showcase the talent that exists in the Carolinas from various pathways. Jono’s connection to the city and club, as well as his maturity on and off the pitch, will help us maintain the competitive and connected environment we built last season,” said Belair.


The Charlotte native played in 56 matches for the 49ers, accumulating 20 goal contributions (11g/9a). In his senior year, he had eight goal contributions (4g/4a), and he helped lead the team to an American Athletic Conference title. Nyandjo was also named a first-team All-American and a semi-finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy (which is equivalent to an MVP award). Nyandjo will compete in a crowded striker position in 2024.



Crown Legacy Depth Chart



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