By Brian Maurer
Head Coach José Tavares giving instructions during a preseason game (photo courtesy of Crown Legacy FC)
Crown Legacy FC’s inaugural season is set to get underway this Sunday. Here is a look at what their roster is shaping up to be as well as a projected starting eleven for their inaugural match against Huntsville City FC.
Goalkeepers - Isaac Walker, Russell Shealy, Nate Silveira and Oliver Weng
The competition for starting goalkeeper is likely between Walker, Shealy and Silveira. All three were signed after they finished their collegiate careers. Walker, specifically, was on trial with Charlotte FC during preseason before earning his contract. Weng is an academy prospect who could get a look with Crown Legacy FC during the season.
Left Back (LB) - Adam Armour
Armour could be seeing time both with Charlotte FC and with Crown Legacy FC. Because he is still signed to the 30-man roster he is going to be able to transfer between the two clubs freely. Having this option could greatly benefit him after rehabbing from his knee surgery. While Crown Legacy FC look to be lacking in depth at LB they will have several versatile defenders who can make the switch to fullback.
Adam Armour (photo courtesy of Charlotte FC)
Center Back (CB) - Ethan Dudley, João Pedro Reginaldo, Hamady Diop, Brandon Marshall, James Nyandjo, João Guilherme Oliveira and Jack Neeley
Dudley was one of the first announced Crown Legacy FC signings. Dudley and number one overall SuperDraft pick, Diop, were both signed out of college. Diop, similar to Armour, will be interchangeable between Charlotte FC and Crown Legacy FC as he is an international Generation Adidas (GA) prospect on Charlotte FC’s supplemental roster, and is capable of playing anywhere along the backline. Pedro Reginaldo and Guilherme Oliveira are two young Brazilian international prospects. Pedro Reginaldo is also capable of filling in at LB if required.
Marshall, Nyandjo, and Neeley are all academy prospects. Neeley took part in Charlotte FC’s preseason, and played in multiple preseason matches. Nyandjo has been a regular call up for the U-16 USYNT. Marshall started for Charlotte FC’s newly formed UPSL academy team in their inaugural match this past weekend.
Right Back (RB) - Nick Scardina and Ervin Cruz
Scardina was a second round draft pick in this year’s SuperDraft. He was drafted as a midfielder, but he could slot in as a right back for Crown Legacy FC as he has spent time on the outside flanks in his collegiate career and due to the lack of fullback depth currently on the roster. Since he was signed to Charlotte FC’s 30-man roster he will be able to move between both clubs. Cruz is an academy prospect who could also get minutes at right back during the course of the season.
Defensive Midfielder (DM) - Philip Mayaka and Nikola Petković
Mayaka was one of Crown Legacy FC’s first signings. He was a third overall SuperDraft pick by the Colorado Rapids in 2021. The Kenyan international played for the Rapids’ MLS NEXT Pro side last year before signing for Crown Legacy FC. Petković was Crown Legacy FC’s biggest winter signing, as the transfer fee was reported at around $3 million. The Serbian international is currently with the Serbian U-21 National Team where he will play against the U-21 USYNT.
Central Midfielder (CM) - Jacob Williams, Thiago Rodrigues, Andrew Privett, David Poreba, Sam Sery, Xander Martin, Aryeh Miller, Aron John, and Erik Pena
Rodrigues and Poreba were both signed from abroad. Poreba was Crown Legacy FC’s first ever signing and is a Polish American dual international. Rodrigues is a Brazilian international. Williams and third round SuperDraft pick, Privett, were both signed out of college. Sery, Martin, Miller, John and Pena are all academy prospects who could earn minutes with Crown Legacy FC.
Wingers - Brian Romero, Brandon Cambridge, Josué Rodrigues, Nimfasha Berchimas, Gurman Sangha and Boni Salinas
This group is highlighted by two Charlotte FC academy prospects Romero and Berchimas. They are the first two academy prospects to sign homegrown contracts for Charlotte FC. Salinas is another academy prospect who tends to also play in a central attacking midfield role. Salinas also featured in Charlotte FC’s UPSL academy team this past weekend. Cambridge is on a homegrown contract for Charlotte FC after being traded from the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Cambridge will be able to move seamlessly between the two clubs as he is on Charlotte FC’s 30-man roster. Sangha played for the same college as Cambridge, and was one of the first signings for Crown Legacy FC. Rodrigues is another Brazilian international prospect signed by Crown Legacy FC.
Brian Romero against Chelsea (photo courtesy of Charlotte FC)
Strikers - Iuri Tavares, Patrick Agyemang, Marko Filipovic and Brando Bedolla
Agyemang signed as a first round pick in this year’s SuperDraft. Tavares is a Cape Verdean international prospect who was signed from Portugues side Estoril Praia. Filipovic is a versatile Hungarian international forward who can play on any side of the attack. Bedolla is an academy prospect who could get an opportunity with Crown Legacy FC at some point this season.
Projected Starting IX
With developmental clubs it can be far more difficult to project a starting eleven as there are many more moving pieces and a larger roster of rotating prospects. However, this is how I think Crown Legacy FC could lineup in their inaugural match against Huntsville City SC:
As stated above, players who are signed to Charlotte FC’s 30-man roster are allowed to drop down to Crown Legacy FC however many times the club wishes to do so. However, players who are signed to Crown Legacy FC contracts are only allowed to jump up to Charlotte FC on four short-term agreement deals per season (which allows them to play one MLS match per deal).