By Sam Vanolinda
Berchimas (2nd from the right) with Diego Forlan (Center) at a tournament in Miami (Photo courtesy of NC Fusion)
Nimfasha Berchimas. Remember the name.
Charlotte FC has produced a Homegrown prospect who has been the talk of American soccer for the past week. The 15-year-old was the youngest player selected, and the youngest to score multiple goals at the U-17 World Cup since Freddy Adu in 2003.
Berchimas, a High Point native, is barely past middle school and is already representing his country and dominating the competition against players two years older than him. He scored three goals in two wins versus South Korea and Burkina Faso.
With every goal Berchimas scores, he punctuates it with an impressive standing backflip celebration, akin to his senior teammate Kerwin Vargas. With every flip, he creates more waves within the football world.
He has already shot up to the top of the list of prospects that the club has produced – garnering interest from Bayern Munich, a team that invited him to spend some time at their academy last summer.
We caught up with Jason Osborne, Berchimas’ head coach at the U-17 level at Charlotte FC, who described the 15-year-old as:
“An electric winger who can create chances and score with either foot. His change of pace and deception make him a lethal threat in the final third. Watching his growth over the last two years we can see he is still improving with much more to come.”
Born in Burundi, Berchimas moved to Highpoint, NC at a young age and started his career at Greensboro-based NC Fusion.
Photo courtesy of Charlotte FC
He signed with Charlotte FC in 2020, and in November 2022 became the sixth youngest player to sign a Homegrown contract in MLS history at 14 years and 268 days old.
In 2023, he played eight games for Crown Legacy, scoring one goal. Academy director Bryan Scales thinks the staff and culture around the club is the perfect place for him to grow as a player and a person:
“It's not always easy for young players to stay focused on the right things when they receive increased attention.” Scales said. “Thankfully. José Tavares and his staff with Crown Legacy FC have plenty of experience with high-potential young players. They keep him focused on developing the right professional habits, the right mentality, while also giving him room to grow on and off the field.”
So what does the future look like for this ultra-talented winger? If he continues to grow at this rate European clubs like Bayern Munich will come knocking at the door. But right now his focus is on Charlotte FC and progressing toward first-team minutes.
“Nimfa is still very young, so I’d expect the next steps would include getting back into the Crown Legacy and First Team environment in January in preparation for the ’24 season.” Scales added. “Competing on a daily basis against senior professional players is always challenging. For a teenager to do that while balancing his high school classes....he’ll have a full plate!”
Finding prospects like Berchimas illustrates the youth-based mindset for the future of Charlotte FC. The success of Crown Legacy last season and the increasing number of exciting young players in the club points toward a bright future in the Queen City.
Photo courtesy of Charlotte FC
“We are three and a half years into our academy and made a number of enhancements over the last year.” Scales said. “With the support from ownership and the alignment of our pathway with Crown Legacy FC through to the First Team, we are pleased with the progress so far. Developing young players takes time and patience, so to have one of our Homegrown Players making an impact at an international event is a good sign.”
Berchimas made a third appearance in the competition against France in the final group stage game for the US U-17 team, it was a 30-minute substitute appearance in a 0-3 loss, but the U.S. will continue in the U-17 World Cup in the round of 16 against Germany, Nov. 21.
It’s hard to say when we will see Berchimas see First Team Charlotte FC action. Scales added that they can’t “Microwave,” his development – the team will be patient and give him time to grow into competition against much older and more skilled opposition.
However long it takes Berchimas to make his debut in front of the Bank of America Stadium Crowd, he is a player that any Charlotte FC fan should keep an eye on, it will be exciting to watch his electric wing play as he develops over the next couple of years.