Charlotte FC have meticulously constructed their expansion season roster, crescendoing to Wednesday’s news of landing their first-ever Designated Player.
The MLS newcomers for 2022 have signed striker Karol Świderski from Greek side PAOK, a Polish international who’s joined long-term (deal through 2025, option for 2026).
And how sporting director Zoran Krneta sees it, CTLFC have an attacking centerpiece.
“Special player,” the Serbian said succinctly. “It’s a perfect fit for sure, perfect fit for what we’re trying to do here.”
Świderski’s arrival is the latest in a trend of Polish youth and senior internationals coming to MLS, with the 25-year-old mentioning New England Revolution striker Adam Buksa and New York Red Bulls forward Patryk Klimala as friends he spoke with before putting pen to paper. He also noted former Chicago Fire FC midfielder Przemysław Frankowski, who last August was transferred to Ligue 1 club RC Lens.
Those conversations helped Świderski, amid interest from Italian Serie A sides, connect with the front-foot system head coach Miguel Angel Ramirez plans to implement.
“They say it’s fantastic, a fantastic league,” Świderski remarked. “And also I can improve here and always I can come back to Europe. But I am so happy to be here now.”
Świderski’s time at PAOK was marked by 35 goals and 14 assists in 135 appearances, including the 2018-19 Super League Greece title and two Greek Cups. For Poland, his six goals in 14 matches are the byproduct of a key role in World Cup Qualifiers and last summer’s Euro 2020 championship.
A goal-scorer first and foremost, Świderski hopes to supplement an attack that's currently highlighted by winger Cristian “Titi” Ortiz, Peru international Yordy Reyna and U22 Initiative forward Vinicius Mello.
“I’m not like a normal No. 9 who stays only in the box,” Świderski said. “I think I can play out of the box. I keep with the ball and can play also with small games.”
Krneta assured that more additions are on the way, too, particularly of the DP variety (as many as two more). Ecuador international midfielder Jordy Alcívar is currently a Young DP, though that classification could change come roster compliance day.
“We’re looking for more,” Krneta said. “There will be more DPs, we have options and this is why we build the club and the roster in a way that we can cherry-pick, if you like, at the end of the roster-building who we want. … These very good players, it’s not easy to get these players over the line. There’s always an issue or two. But hopefully soon we’ll add one or two more players.”
Further DPs would supplement a core that's been crafted through various means: trades, the Expansion Draft, the SuperDraft, free agency and the international market. The likes of goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina, defender Anton Walkes and midfielder Sergio Ruiz all stand out as a result.
As key signings are finalized, Świderski is relishing the opportunity – and natural pressure – that awaits him in Charlotte.
"America, this was my dream also," Świderski said. "I’m so happy to be here."