Away End

The Away End | Charlotte FC with Jessica Charman 


New York City FC takes on Charlotte FC on Saturday evening.

For this edition of 'The Away End' presented by Berkeley College & Rennert International, we spoke to Jessica Charman, English Radio Color Commentator for Charlotte FC.

Hi Jessica, thanks for speaking with us. How long have you been covering soccer and more specifically Charlotte FC?

I’ve been covering Charlotte FC since it’s very first game in MLS. I’ve had the opportunity to commentate every single Major League Soccer game the club has played which has been very special. Growing up listening to soccer on the radio, I always wanted to be the voice of a team, so it’s been a dream come true being that for Charlotte.

What’s been your highlight in that time?

It’s hard to pick, but I’d have to go with the first home game in club history. Over 74,000 fans showed up to see, what was at the time, an attendance record.

The atmosphere was absolutely electric. Looking down and seeing that many people coming together to support the club was incredible. It was one of those pinch-me moments when you realize that you’re a small part of something so important to so many people.

The club has several new players and a new head coach. How would you evaluate the team’s off-season? 
I’m actually really encouraged by the offseason. I think from the outside, the offseason might look quite underwhelming given Charlotte are down to one DP, selling their most dangerous player in club history so far in Karol Świderski.

That being said, new head coach Dean Smith has been very vocal about wanting players who want to fight for the Crown, so read into that what you will. Dean Smith for me is an amazing fit. A proven manager who has worked with top talent, what’s not to love?

During preseason we were defensively secure - a clear priority based on last year's record - and that is hugely encouraging to me. In terms of new personnel, we’ve brought up a bunch of brilliant talent from Crown Legacy, our MLS Next Pro Team. I’m really excited about the new generation of players Crown Legacy is cultivating.

We’ve added Júnior Urso most recently, a proven MLS midfielder, and Djibril Diani to bolster that part of the field too.

What are your hopes for the team this season? 

I’d love the club to have its most successful season yet. It has been a roller coaster first two seasons, with highs and lows, but this fan base and group of players truly deserve the opportunity to celebrate success.

The Eastern Conference is only getting stronger and stronger, as MLS continues to gain traction, so I think improving on last year's 9th spot would be huge. Home playoff game? That would be special!

What makes the opening day of the season so exciting for you?

In terms of soccer, I think the fact it’s a clean slate. It doesn’t really matter for either team how last year was, or what opinions others have of your team, we both have a chance to impress from the first whistle and start a new season with a bang.

It has been a long offseason, so it has been a really long time coming to get back “home”. Personally, I’m excited to see all the familiar faces across the stadium and just get a chance to talk about Major League Soccer on air. I’ve missed it.

What do you think will be a deciding factor in Saturday’s game?

I think the cliché of the 12th man is a real thing at Bank of America stadium.

I’m hearing that we’re expecting between 60,000 and 70,000 fans in the stadium. That becomes a huge advantage to the home side with motivation to play for the fan base.

In terms of pitch specifics, Charlotte FC seemed to have really improved defensively in preseason, which was much needed after last year. If they can continue to be as solid as they showed in preseason, that could be a great foundation for a victory.

For any of our supporters that might be in Charlotte for the game, are there any places you’d suggest they check out beforehand?

Ha, I’m actually not the best person to ask this question since I’m based out of Atlanta and travel into The Queen City every match day. That being said, it’s a beautiful city with amazing people. I highly recommend linking up with our supporters’ group tailgate, they do a great job of welcoming and including away support. The South End has a lot of great food spots.

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