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Charlotte FC president says team on pace to break MLS record

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Charlotte FC’s goal is to have more than 74,000 fans at Bank of America Stadium for its first home match.

Charlotte FC’s goal is to have more than 74,000 fans at Bank of America Stadium for its first home match.

Charlotte FC hasn’t played a single Major League Soccer match, but the club is set on making a splash when it finally does. By its second game in existence, the franchise intends to break a league record by hosting a crowd of more than 74,000 fans at Bank of America Stadium.

The turnout would top the current attendance record of 73,019 fans set by Atlanta United for a 2018 playoff match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Charlotte FC’s inaugural home game against the LA Galaxy on March 5 is a little more than seven weeks away, and the front office believes ticket sales are on pace to hit the mark.

“We’re very confident with the 74,000,” Charlotte FC president Nick Kelly told The Observer. “ … Having the (SuperDraft) last night, and having more individual events where players are involved and fans don’t have to see front office staff and they can actually see player, is really crystallizing the fact that the season starts in (seven) weeks.”

Charlotte FC’s first match of the year is set for Feb. 26 against D.C. United in Washington, D.C. The expansion team will face the Galaxy at home the following week for its highly anticipated home debut. Kelly said that the club has sold nearly 50,000 tickets for the event, confirming what MLS Commissioner Don Garber mentioned in a letter to fans last week.

In May, Kelly outlined another key attendance goal for Charlotte FC: To consistently fill the lower bowl of Bank of America Stadium, which translates to averaging around 30,000 fans at home matches.

“Anything less than this would not be a successful first year in our eyes,” Kelly said at the time.

That means season ticket sales are also an important marker for the club. On Wednesday, Kelly provided an update on that number, saying that Charlotte FC has also sold more than 20,000 season tickets to date as the club prepares to release single-match tickets for the full season this week. Pre-sale for season ticket members begins at 10 a.m. on Thursday, noon Thursday for Carolina Panthers PSL holders and 2 p.m. Thursday for email subscribers. Single-game tickets for all home matches will go on sale to the general public Jan 14. at 10 a.m.

“Honestly, I don’t know where we’re going to net out,” Kelly said. “We’ll be above (20,000 season tickets), but these next two months are going to really dictate where we land.”

Atlanta United’s historical season ticket sales trajectory provides another point of reference for Charlotte FC, as the teams are Eastern Conference rivals playing in shared NFL and MLS stadiums in their respective cities. Charlotte FC is aiming to experience similarly strong turnout and early on-field success as a new franchise, like Atlanta in 2017.

But its season ticket sale pace is behind Atlanta, which sold more than 22,000 season tickets seven months prior to its first match. That was before the team hired a head coach and had just seven players on its roster. Charlotte FC announced its head coach, Miguel Ángel Ramírez, in July and following Tuesday’s MLS SuperDraft, in which Charlotte FC selected three collegiate players to add to its roster, the team is up to 23 players.

But the club expects sales to continue, especially as players begin training and become more visible. Pre-season training for Charlotte FC begins Monday and runs through Jan. 25 for its first stint at Clemson University. The team will then depart for IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. from Jan. 28-Feb. 8. It will close its last leg of training in South Carolina at a to-be-announced venue Feb. 10-19 before returning to Charlotte for a historic kickoff.

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NASCAR and Charlotte FC beat reporter Alex Andrejev joined The Observer in January 2020 following an internship at The Washington Post. She played Division I volleyball at Columbia University before earning her master’s degree at the University of Southern California.
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Sporting KC acquires winger Marinos Tzionis 

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Sporting Kansas City announced the addition of another young player with the signing of 20-year-old winger Marinos Tzionis from Omonia Nicosia in Cyprus. Tzionis has signed a three-year MLS contract through 2024 with an option for 2025 and will occupy an international spot on Sporting’s roster pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and P1 visa.

Tzionis has been rumored for a little over a week and he is the third young international signing this month. Robert Voloder was announce on Jan 19th and is a 20-year-old German center back. Logan Ndenbe a 21-year-old Belgian left back signed on Jan 14th. All eligible for the MLS U-22 Initiative.

SKC manager Peter Vermes and staff will likely not designate who is or is not a U-22 Initiative player until roster deadline day shortly before the season. They can take their time to decide while adding other potential players.

Just this morning, reports were coming in that he had signed and gave some numbers around the acquisition The reported transfer fee was said to be between €1.5 and €2 million, between $1.69 and $2.26 million in US Dollars and Omonia would retain 10 percent of any sell on fee. It was also reported that Tzionis would be paid €300,000 plus bonuses, $338,880 in US dollars.

Tzionis was born and raised in Nicosia, Cyprus and grew up playing for Omonia Nicosia’s academy before signing for their first team as a 15-year-old in 2017 and made his first appearance for them in 2018. The young winger made a few appearances for the first team over the next couple of years but he started to really be noticed in the 2020-21 season. Seven goals in 43 appearances and helping his club to first place with a 23-3-10 record.

The young attacker has also represented his country at the U-17 and U-19 youth levels and then the senior team starting in 2020 with a total of 13 appearances.

Tzionis is right-footed and mainly plays on the left wing where Vermes tends to like wingers who can cut inside. He has some time at attacking mid and second striker as well.

Highlights of goals.



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Report: DC United signing Greek forward Taxiarchis Fountas as Designated Player

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Fountas has a track record as a leading goalscorer in Austria’s top flight, netting 35 times in 68 league appearances. He broke onto the professional ranks in Greece with AEK Athens from 2011-13 before heading to Red Bull Salzburg.

The club’s forward group is currently headlined by Ola Kamara, who finished second in the Golden Boot presented by Audi race last season with 19 goals in 28 games, ceding the top honors to NYCFC‘s Valentin Castellanos via the assists tiebreaker.

D.C., heading into their second year under head coach Hernan Losada, missed an Eastern Conference spot in the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs by one point.





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Not another Freddy Adu: RSL’s Axel Kei ready for challenge as youngest-ever MLS signing

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You can draw the comparison if you must. He’s ready for that. In fact, this month’s milestone is actually the second time he’s broken one of Adu’s marks, having already made his pro debut back in October, when he appeared for Real Monarchs in USL Championship action on an academy contract. Kei was 13 years, 8 months and 9 days for the first record; he was 14 years and 15 days for the second.

“The whole pressure of Freddy Adu and all that stuff. I saw all that, I read all the articles, I watched all the YouTube videos,” noted Kei. “Of course there’s going to be people that want to see – ‘oh, this kid, we heard this kid is good, he’s out here breaking records, whatever, I want to see what he has, see what he got.’

“I’m not letting that get into my head. This is just like, I’m still gonna be me. I’m still gonna train. Not because people are saying they want to see this, they want to see that, that I’m gonna change my playing style. It’s just the way I am, I’m not going to change this. I’m still going to be the same Axel Kei, I’m still gonna play how I play. It’s just focusing on what I like to do – soccer.”

If you’re struggling to set a fair barometer for Kei, consider that Beltran and his colleagues at Zions Bank Training Center know all about Adu’s story. How burdensome a record like that and the comparisons it generates can be. And yet Kei’s abilities are so striking, his upward trajectory already so steep, that they could not avoid the conclusion that Salt Lake should sign him now anyway.





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