For Charlotte FC, this is the culmination of years of preparation – plus an extra year due to the pandemic – that has led to this one-of-a-kind chance. While previous new MLS teams have had their team’s identity and culture determined by their city and region, Charlotte FC’s first important move toward becoming a central influence in shaping that identity and culture will take place on Saturday.
Charlotte, like other big cities in the southeast, is a transplant city, where people come to get away from little villages or huge metropolises where the air is cold enough to damage your face for 70% of the year. That has been the case for decades. While third and fourth-generation Charlotteans are hard to come by, there are plenty of second-and long-time first-generation residents trying to shape the city and area into what they want it to be and who they want it to reflect.
When it comes to putting those concepts into practice in the Charlotte FC community, it all starts with a leap of faith into a soccer culture that has long been established in the area.
“For a long time, there’s been a really strong culture for this game in the Carolinas, ranging down to the youth level, to really good collegiate programs, to historic USL clubs across the Carolinas,” said Shawn McIntosh, Charlotte FC’s chief fan officer.
Lindsey, a former Sporting Kansas City homegrown player, said, “I think soccer and Charlotte was always a major thing growing up.” “It was always a big deal, even when I was playing club ball here and in the Charlotte academy.” There’s always a lot of player product coming out of North Carolina, especially in Charlotte. It’s just a city that has expanded so much, I believe. Even when I moved to Kansas City, I would come back here in the summertime when European teams would visit Bank of America Stadium, which was nearly full.”
“That’s when I realized how popular soccer is in Charlotte.” I figured that once Charlotte obtains an MLS franchise, something similar might happen on Saturday. It’s like a dream come true now that it’s truly going to happen.”
They’ve already attracted fans to the sport. The challenge now is how Charlotte FC intends to make its product a defining and long-lasting part of the community. Of course, there’s the obvious solution of “make the team better at soccer.” That will be more difficult for an expansion team than other recent clubs have admitted, and it will take some time. The other responses, on the other hand, are a little more tailored.
The club and its supporters aspire to be more than just a source of pride for individuals who live and work in Uptown, in addition to becoming a club that wants to represent Charlotte as a city. They aim to be a gathering spot for the entire Carolinas. The team’s original primary kit, “The Carolina Kit,” features the outline of the region as evidence of this.
Whatever that conglomeration of ideas and cultures becomes, it will provide a space unique to several generations of transplant city residents and the surrounding region. In the long run, that space, combined with a desire for constant community outreach from the team and its supporters, could make Charlotte FC fandom a defining feature of the culture.
On Saturday, that possibility becomes a reality. We’ll have to wait and see how things go from there. At the very least, Charlotte FC will be able to thank everyone who contributed to Charlotte’s record-breaking moment while also capturing the imagination of those who might be a part of the next one.
Chartlotte FC v La Galaxy match: The game will be played at 6:30pm central time in Charlotte. It will be first home game for Charlotte FC and the fans are excited about it.