TRANSFER TRACKER STATUS: Signing

Charlotte FC have signed midfielder Brian Romero as their first-ever homegrown player, the club announced Wednesday.

Romero, a 16-year-old US youth international, has signed through 2026 with an option for 2027. The North Carolina native joined the club’s academy in 2020 and has been a standout with their U-17s.

“Brian is a tremendous young man who loves to play football and has a hunger to become the best player he can be. He’s shown his talent at the academy level and for the youth national team and has the potential to become one of the country’s top talents,” sporting director Zoran Krneta said in a release.

“This is a signing for our future. Brian still has to grow and adjust to senior football, but we have a specific plan for his development, and he will be learning under coaches with a true passion for mentoring and developing young players. We have worked since 2020 to develop our own talent throughout the Carolinas and to sign the first homegrown player in club history is one of our proudest moments.”

Last month, Romero came off the bench for Charlotte’s first team in a friendly against English Premier League giants Chelsea FC. He drew a late penalty kick, setting the stage for a 1-1 draw and shootout victory.

The attacker was one of two Charlotte academy players to join the first team’s inaugural preseason camp. He’s continued to train at the pro level during the Queen City side’s expansion campaign.

“As an academy staff, we couldn’t be more excited for Brian to take the next step in his journey and sign his first professional contract,” executive academy director Bryan Scales said in a release. “Brian is Charlotte through and through. He is a local young man who has excelled on his pathway through our academy and at the international level, becoming a tangible example for young players across our region who have dreams of becoming a professional soccer player.”

Romero is expected to play a major role for Charlotte FC’s MLS NEXT Pro team when it debuts in 2023. He was recently selected to the inaugural MLS NEXT All-Star Game, which will take place next week during the league’s All-Star festivities in Minnesota.