After a challenging 2021 in USL Championship on the business side and the impending arrival of MLS in 2022, Charlotte Independence will drop to USL League One for 2022.
Not a surprise: In July, after changes in the ownership suite and a new home, Charlotte Independence management announced the possibility of self-delegation from USL Championship to USL League One. It’s billed as a way for the Independence to rekindle some old rivalries from USL Championship with the likes of the Richmond Kickers and North Carolina FC, but it’s also a reaction to Charlotte FC joining Major League Soccer in 2022. The lower operating costs for USL League One will surely be welcome as well.
The move also allows for a renewed emphasis on player development. “We believe the Independence can better serve the Charlotte soccer community by increasing our focus on developing up-and-coming soccer players as they hone their talents,” said Jim McPhilliamy, CEO & Managing Partner of the Independence, in a press statement. “Having our men’s professional team compete in USL League One provides an excellent opportunity to field even more players with Queen City roots. We love the Charlotte soccer community and want it to succeed at all levels.”
Besides the move to USL League One, ownership is adding a USL Super League team as well.
The team did see a boost in attendance this season after a move to American Legion Memorial Stadium. “Our team loved playing there this season, and we were able to build on winning our 2020 USL Championship Group last season by delivering our first-ever, home playoff match victory in 2021,” principal team owner Dan DiMicco said in a statement. “We couldn’t be prouder of this year’s team and its run at the Championship this season.”
Photo courtesy Charlotte Independence.