Charlotte FC’s leadership acknowledged setbacks in their squad building process on Thursday, amid reports that a mooted $6 million Designated Player deal with Venezuelan winger Darwin Machis fell apart due to legal issues in Spain this week.
Speaking to reporters after CLTFC’s open training session at Bank of America Stadium, head coach Miguel Angel Ramirez said it would be “very difficult” to attain the expansion club’s stated goal of a year-one trip to the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs with the squad currently at his disposal.
“We need to reinforce the squad,” said the Spaniard. “We need to have something else to be more competitive."
“Let's wait and see how the roster-building finishes,” he said later when asked in Spanish what should be expected of his new squad. “When we finish that, I will answer that question and tell you how I see things. Right now, we're screwed.”
Ramirez asked that his group be given time to gel and absorb his meticulous positional-play system before media and fans render their judgments. With the clock ticking down to Charlotte’s inaugural match, a visit to D.C. United on Feb. 26, he clearly would also prefer that quality reinforcements be added to a roster that is still well short of full capacity.
Now that preseason is well underway, he noted, there’s only so much he himself can do on that front.
“Now I am focused with the players that I have, preparing the trainings, preparing the friendlies, preparing the team to compete. So it is what I have, this is the group I have and I want to work with them and I want to put my focus on them,” said Ramirez.
“It's the sporting director's job, it's the chief of scouting, the scouting department's job to be looking for these players. It's not my job anymore. I was helping the club [in that area] before because I had no work on the pitch. But now my focus is this work.”
Nick Kelly, a key CLTFC figure who recently shifted from club president to CEO of parent company Tepper Sports and Entertainment, subsequently addressed the situation via Twitter.
As MLSsoccer.com’s Tom Bogert explained, Kelly appears to be referring to:
• Their capture of Polish striker Karol Swiderski on a DP deal
• A scotched deal for Derby County’s Polish winger Kamil Jozwiak
• The 11th-hour collapse of the Machis transfer from Granada CF.
At present Swiderski, Argentine creator Cristian "Titi" Ortiz, U22 Initiative signing Vinicius Mello and MLS veteran Yordy Reyna look like the leading options up top for Ramirez’s preferred tactical starting point of a front-foot 4-3-3 formation. Though Mello is dealing with a lingering foot injury, leaving the lines depleted pending reinforcements.