Excitement builds as Charlotte FC kicks off its third season

CHARLOTTE — Charlotte FC kicks off its third season this weekend at Bank of America Stadium. It’s the club’s first season under new coach Dean Smith.

Smith spoke Thursday about his debut at the start of an all-new season with new faces and new promise.

The club has a chance Saturday to put weeks of preseason training to the test.

“I can feel the fever gripping in the Uptown area. People talking about the game, lots of people going. I’ve got to get 20-something tickets myself,” Smith said. “There’s an excitement growing and I’m looking forward to it.”

Smith attended a match at Bank of America Stadium before, but not like this -- not as head coach and leading the club coming off its first taste of the postseason.

Smith and his players said repeatedly that this team’s identity and style are hard to beat.

“It looks like one that teams will struggle to play through. We don’t want the opposition to be getting one v. ones against our goalkeepers, so we want to be compact -- make them go where we want them to go and we can trap them and try to win the ball back,” Smith said. “But when we win the ball back, we want to go and score.”

“Last year, people were all new,” midfielder Ashley Westwood said. “I was new. [Brecht Dejaegere] was new. [Enzo Copetti] was new, but now, we’ve had a full year together. I’m really excited.”

Charlotte FC made it through the preseason without losing a match. In its last few games, it didn’t give up any goals. But those results won’t matter moving forward. Smith said they’re still impactful matches for the team.

“It helps build momentum,” he said. “And it also helps to build confidence with players as well, and I can see a confident group and I can see one that took some momentum from those games.”

It all starts Saturday at home. Charlotte FC faces New York City FC at 7:30 p.m. Want tickets? Click here.

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