Charlotte FC prepares for 2nd MLS season

Coach Christian Lattanzio added former team captain Christian Fuchs to his staff

Charlotte FC captain Christian Fuchs announced his retirement but joined the club’s coaching staff for the upcoming 2023 season. (David Zalubowski / AP Photo)

CHARLOTTE — As Charlotte FC prepares for the start of its second Major League Soccer campaign next month following a 13-18-3 inaugural season, the club has undergone some changes to its roster and coaching staff in 2023.

Last week, Charlotte FC’s inaugural captain Christian Fuchs announced his retirement from professional soccer after an illustrious 19-year career for seven teams in four different countries.

“It has been an incredible journey for me and my family. Not only did we celebrate great success throughout the years, but we have also been able to learn from amazing people during this journey,” Fuchs said in a press release on Jan. 5. “I am so thankful for all the support I received during my career from club representatives, my teammates, and the fans. I am looking back with a big smile on the special moments I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

Fuchs, 36, finished his career with 577 total professional club appearances, scoring 37 goals and adding 83 assists.

“We are thankful to have had a player of his caliber lead our locker room as captain to build a positive, winning culture in our inaugural season,” Charlotte FC sporting director Zoran Krneta said. “He was important for us with his performances on the field, but more importantly he has helped lay a critical foundation that will help this Club be successful for many years to come.”

Just one day after his retirement, Charlotte FC announced that Fuchs will serve as an assistant coach for the 2023 season under head coach Christian Lattanzio, joining Andy Quy (returning assistant), Pa-Modou Kah (four years of MLS playing experience), Aron Hyde (U.S. Men’s National Team’s head of goalkeeping) and Rohan Sachdev (former Portland Timbers head video coach) on the staff.

“We are very excited to announce a strong, experienced coaching staff for the upcoming season,” Krneta said. “We believe that Andy, Christian, Pa, Aron, and Rohan will bring together a diverse set of experiences and qualifications under Head Coach Christian Lattanzio’s leadership. Assembling a talented technical staff is critical for us to achieve our goals as a Club, and it demonstrates that high-level coaches believe in our project here in the Carolinas.”

After an 8-10-2 record as an interim coach, Lattanzio was made Charlotte FC’s permanent coach on Oct. 26 and given a contract extension through 2024 with an option for the 2025 season. Former head coach Miguel Ángel Ramírez was fired on May 31 just 14 games into the club’s first season.

Along with the reshaped coaching staff, Charlotte FC has been tweaking its roster for the upcoming season which is set to begin with a home match against New England on Feb. 25.

The club recently signed midfielder Ashley Westwood to a contract until 2024 with an option for 2025. Westwood, 32, has 286 career Premier League appearances across 10 seasons with stints at Burnley FC and Aston Villa, scoring a dozen goals with 32 assists.

Just four years ago, the Nantwich, England, native was named Burnley’s Player of the Year by both his teammates and supporters.

In other club moves, Charlotte FC defender Harrison Afful was re-signed to a new contract through 2023 with an option for 2024. Afful, 36, appeared in 21 league matches after signing as a free agent and will also work with the club’s scouting department in a player professional development role.

While nothing has been finalized, there has been speculation that Charlotte FC striker and Peruvian International player Yordy Reyna, 29, might be on his way out from the team in the form of a contract termination — a move that would free up an international roster spot for the club while also allowing more playing time for forwards McKinze Gaines and Kerwin Vargas as well as midfielders Kamil Jóźwiak and Christopher Hegardt.

Last season with Charlotte, Reyna scored four goals and added six assists across MLS and the U.S. Open Cup. Honduran League winger Alexy Vega, 26, has been linked as a possible signing for Charlotte FC after posting six goals and two assists in 17 appearances in Liga Betcris.