By Brian Maurer
According to sources, former Colorado Rapids coach, Robin Fraser, is also being considered as a head coach by Charlotte FC. He joins their shortlist that includes previously reported Frank Lampard, Dean Smith, and Freddy Juarez.
With this list of names, we can start to get a sense of what Charlotte FC is focusing on in their third attempt to get the head coach hiring right.
All four names on this list have head coaching experience. Charlotte FC’s initial hire, Miguel Ángel Ramirez (MAR), had less than two years of experience as a head coach. Their most recent coach, Christian Lattanzio, had none.
The most obvious change in direction is that the Charlotte FC front office is looking for a coach with far more experience to push the team's trajectory forward.
Smith has over a decade of head coaching experience at the top three tiers in England. Fraser has over four years of head coaching experience in MLS. Lampard has nearly four years of experience coaching in the Championship and the Premier League. Juarez has the least amount of coaching experience with just over two years at the helm for Real Salt Lake.
Even Juarez who is the least experienced of Charlotte’s current options has more experience than MAR did when The Crown hired him two years ago.
Youth development and recruiting
Based on the make-up of the current roster Charlotte’s front office is also likely looking for a coach who is interested in developing young talent. Of the 16 players currently on Charlotte’s senior roster, five are 25 or younger. The supplemental roster currently consists of four Homegrown signings (Brandon Cambridge is a Homegrown acquired in a trade), and six SuperDraft picks (including two Generation Adidas players and an additional first-round pick).
This doesn’t include the multiple young players who could also be vying for a spot on the first-team from Crown Legacy FC. Charlotte has invested heavily in recruiting young talent, and based on their current list of coaches being considered this is an area they are focused on.
Smith has been developing talent since his days as an Academy Manager at Warsall. Where he helped develop Brentford’s left-back Rico Henry as a teenager. Smith went from Warsall to coaching at Brentford where he signed Henry to come along with him. Henry is now a Premier League left-back still playing with The Bees.
More recently, Smith helped recruit and develop young players like Douglas Ruiz, John McGinn, Ollie Watkins, and Matty Cash. All of them are now mainstays on the Aston Villa team that is currently sitting third in the Premier League.
Lampard will be most recognized by Americans for his ability to get more out of Christian Pulisic. He also developed players like Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori at Derby County, who he brought with him to Chelsea the following season.
Fraser helped develop several academy prospects through the Colorado Rapids pathway. Such as Cole Bassett and Sam Vines.
Juarez worked for RSL for many years as a development coach, an assistant manager, and a head coach. During that time he has helped many players climb through the professional pathway. Something that RSL has become well known for.
MAR and Lattanzio both struggled to earn consistent results. This is something that Charlotte will be looking for in their next coach. This is one area where all four coaching options have struggled with. They have all reached peaks with coaching results, but all four have struggled to maintain that level with long-term consistency.
Smith helped Aston Villa earn Premier League promotion over Lampard’s Derby County in a playoff final. He then helped Villa build the foundation for the squad to maintain itself in the first tier. Lampard had one good season at Chelsea where he helped them earn fourth in the Premier League.
Fraser won the Western Conference with Colorado in 2021, and Juarez won a playoff game during his time as a Caretaker Manager.
None of these coaches have consistent results that jump off the page. Smith easily has the most enduring stretch of success compared to the other options listed. Over the next week, we should get a sense of which of these four candidates fits what Charlotte is looking for the most in terms of head coaching. Afterward, their recruiting and transfer window action should start to kick in. Often clubs are stuck in limbo until their coaching situation resolves. This is no different for Charlotte.