By Sam Vanolinda
Photo Courtesy of CJ Hellner
UPDATE (3:27 PM) : Charlotte FC announced end-of-season roster decisions for players with expiring contracts and player options.
The club exercised options on six players: Patrick Agyemang, Ben Bender, Hamady Diop, George Marks, Andrew Privett, and Nick Scardina.
The club also denied six contract options for: Harrison Afful, McKinze Gaines, Chris Hegardt, Pablo Sisniega, Jan Sobocinski, and Adrian Zendejas.
Additionally, midfielder Derrick Jones will become a free agent.
Justin Meram's contract has expired, but the Club is in discussion over a new deal with the veteran.
Expansion teams tend to undergo a lot of change in their first couple of years of existence before players solidify themselves as roster pieces for years to come. In 2023, many Charlotte FC players have proved themselves to be worthy of being cornerstones of the franchise, but many have also faded into obscurity or have become unsettled.
Here is a list of players that could potentially move this winter:
Świderski has been Charlotte’s most consistent attacking threat since he was signed as a designated player. The club's all-time leading goalscorer has enjoyed success and been the biggest name since Charlotte’s debut season.
His ability in the MLS has drawn interest from clubs in Europe. The Polish international almost made his way to Europe before the summer window ended, per a source, Charlotte declined a bid of around $6-7 million from Danish club FC Midtjylland.
It is safe to say that we will probably not be seeing the Polish striker return to the Queen City next season, assuming Charlotte receives an acceptable offer in the next transfer window. Świderski’s contract is until 2025.
Charlotte had high expectations for the former Derby County midfielder, but he has not played up to his designated player status as of late.
In 33 appearances for the crown this season Jóźwiak had eight assists and four goals. Not horrible numbers, but Charlotte will likely want to use their DP slots on a higher-impact player.
Charlotte may replace all three of their designated players this offseason. Copetti has had an up-and-down year since he joined Charlotte from Racing Club in January. When he has played he has provided energy and scored 7 goals in all comps this season for Charlotte FC. Rumors of a potential move to Cruz Azul surfaced in the summer window.
Corujo started 25 games in 2022 but has only played in seven matches this year for Charlotte. He suffered an ACL injury in August of 2022, and now Charlotte has found a potential center back pairing of the future with Adilson Malanda and Andrew Privett.
With two younger options that better fit Christian Lattanzio's playing style it would not be surprising to see Corujo moved even though he is now on a domestic contract.
Despite being very young and having a bright future, Mello has not found playing time within the senior team at Charlotte FC.
He has been sent down to Crown Legacy and may look to boost his career at a different club.
Tuiloma was an emergency addition near the start of the 2023 season. He never really found his footing in Charlotte and since the club appears to have found a young center back pairing to build their backline around they could move Tuiloma on, as center backs are always in demand.
What are the reasons for these potential moves?
There are a few general reasons that could factor in Charlotte FC's decision to make these moves. The one at the top of the list is that several of these players are still holdovers from Miguel Angel Ramirez's tenure (Gaines, Świderski, Jóźwiak, Mello,Sobocinski, Corujo, Sisniega, Afful). Severing most of the initial roster build.
Another is overall fit for the future. This is the camp that Copetti and Tuiloma likely fit into. Copetti is the only one out of these two that seems capable of locking down a starting job long-term in Charlotte. However, the cost of keeping Copetti is steep. He has also struggled to make the kind of immediate impact other DPS across the league have made. Giorgos Giakoumakis (17 goals this season) and Cucho Hernández (28 goal contributions this season) are two recent examples of the impactful DP signings.
Crown Legacy FC also has several young prospects who have proven themselves at the MLS NEXT Pro level. There is a decent chance that Charlotte FC is aiming to make some space on their roster for a few of them to move up at the start of next season.