If all goes to plan, fans of the incoming Charlotte MLS team won’t have to wait long for their academy to turn fruitful.
Academy manager Dan Lock outlined as much in a recent episode of Between 2 Pints, a video interview series the 2021 expansion club’s been doing with host Ryan Bailey.
“By 2022 [we want] two Homegrown players signed to the first team, a consistent style,” Lock said. “So, I’m looking forward to it and excited by that.”
That ambitious goal is part of Lock’s aim to unite clubs in Charlotte and the Carolinas, cultivating the region’s top players. They’ll be the new kids on the block, and collaborative relationships will be key in not disrupting the status quo too much.
Lock said they completed significant scouting before the COVID-19 pandemic intensified in early March. His prior work with the Seattle Sounders also led to a base-level understanding of the region's talent, and now they’re watching film.
“The help from the local clubs has been huge,” Lock said. “The local directors, all the clubs in Charlotte and the state have been very open, recommended who they believe are some of the top players who could perform at this level.”
From the onset, Lock said Charlotte plans to have U-14 and U-17 teams, with the latter leaning on the younger side. They’ll also have regular training groups for the U-12 and U-13 age groups.
As players join Charlotte’s academy, Lock is also focused on community engagement. For two examples, players must log a certain amount of community service hours and will be ball kids for games at Bank of America Stadium.
All along, the goal is to start producing Homegrown Players in short order.
“If we all stick to our same shared values, principles and style, regardless of age and different systems, those are the things that need to be consistent through a club,” Lock said. “If you look at any club in the world, the two hardest are getting academy players, homegrown players in the first team – it’s not easy – and making sure there is consistency."