Charlotte FC poised to make Lattanzio permanent head coach
3-year deal in the works with Lattanzio; Plus: Swiderski drawing international interest, Charlotte FC value nearly doubles for Tepper, previewing Philadelphia showdown
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Christian Lattanzio (right) at training this week with Charlotte FC. (Photo by of Kevin Young of The 5 and 2 Project.)
With three games left in the regular season, and Charlotte FC still in the hunt for a playoff berth, the club has decided its future is with Christian Lattanzio as head coach. TopBin90 first reported Thursday that the club is on the verge of signing Lattanzio to a three-year deal, and The Ledger has confirmed an extension is indeed in the works which would keep Lattanzio on Charlotte’s sidelines through 2025.
Lattanzio has gone 7-9-1 in 17 games since taking over for inaugural head coach Miguel Angel Ramirez. Lattanzio was named interim head coach when he was promoted from assistant coach to replace Ramirez in early June.
Despite the challenge of establishing his own system on the fly, Lattanzio helped Charlotte to its first three wins on the road (in Houston, New York and Chicago). He came under fire during a recent stretch in which the team lost five of six games but under his leadership, Charlotte kept its playoff hopes alive by holding on for a 1-0 win vs. New York FC and coming from two goals down to beat Chicago 3-2. Throughout the season, Lattanzio has earned the trust of his players by being an open communicator, and he’s continued to bolster his reputation as a great developer of individual talent.
Charlotte is the first head coaching job for Lattanzio, who turned 51 on Sept. 10. The native of Italy was an assistant coach with New York City FC from 2016-2018 before heading to France, where he was an assistant for OGC Nice in France’s Ligue 1 from 2018-2020. Before coming to MLS, he served as Technical Coordinator for noted Premier League powerhouse Manchester City’s Elite Development Squad from 2013-2015.
Lattanzio expressed his desire to stay in Charlotte during a recent press conference to see the development of this expansion club through.
“I love this football club,” he said. “I really love the fanbase. It’s honestly one of the best atmospheres I’ve ever seen in MLS and one of the best I’ve seen, really, in my years in football. I love it here.”
Polish report says offers rolling in for Swiderski
Swiderski celebrating his game-winning goal vs. Wales for Polish National Team. (Photo courtesy of Charlotte FC.)
If we’ve learned anything this first Major League Soccer season in Charlotte, it’s that players don’t stick around long if they don’t quite make good — Titi Ortiz, Alan Franco and Sergio Ruiz, to name a few. Now we’re getting a taste of what can happen when a player is too good. Polish Sports Network Futbol reported this week that international offers are beginning to roll in for Polish National team and Charlotte FC star Karol Swiderski.
Swiderski is a hot commodity, fresh off a two-goal game in Chicago in which he scored the game-winner in stoppage time. Then he spent the international break scoring a game-winner for Poland on Sunday over Wales — the only goal in a 1-0 win in Nations League play. PSN Futbol identified Swiderski’s agent as a source in the report.
Swiderski signed this past winter with Charlotte through the 2025 season for an estimated $5 million. But we’re learning that even long-term contracts are hardly binding if a player can be bought out for the right price. According to PSN Futbol, that price for Charlotte FC is 15 million Euros, which equates to about $14.68 million. “The MLS club will not consider any offer lower than €15 M for Swiderski,” according to the report.
Charlotte has spent just under $11 million for its entire payroll this season, according to spotrac.com. So if Charlotte is offered nearly $15 million for Swiderski, the team would have to be inclined to take it. Swiderski will have a chance to turn heads during the World Cup this November, in plenty of time for the start of the primary transfer window in February.
Lattanzio said Thursday any outside interest Swiderski is generating is not so much a distraction as it is a compliment.
I think that is a compliment to our football club because it means that our players, his teammates, are helping him to to express his best football. … He's happy to be in Charlotte. And I can confirm that he took on board a lot of the challenges here, and he is certainly better and better in our football club. We are very happy with him. Whatever generates interest is great, but it doesn't really bother anybody. We have very clear the training that we need to do, the way we want to play, and we are really focused on that.
Notable: As for what other Charlotte FC players were up to during the international break:
Andre Shinyashiki threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Tuesday’s Charlotte Knights game
Goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina and his wife visited New York City
Winger Kerwin Vargas got to bang the “keep pounding” drum before the Carolina Panthers’ first win of the season Sunday over New Orleans
And defender Adam Armour celebrated a birthday
CLT FC franchise value nearly doubles; Tepper ranked as No. 3 wealthiest sports team owner
Charlotte FC owner David Tepper interacting with fans this season. (Photo by Kevin Young of The 5 and 2 Project.)
For anyone who thought David Tepper was nuts for paying a record $300 million entry fee to bring MLS soccer to Charlotte, get a load of this: Approaching the end of its first season, Charlotte FC has nearly doubled in value. Sports business publication Sportico values the franchise at $570 million, according to a report in the Charlotte Business Journal (subscriber-only).
Sportico’s data predicts that Charlotte FC will make $71 million in revenue this season, which would rank fifth best in MLS. The overall value of $570 million would make Charlotte FC the 12th most valuable in the 28-team league. Los Angeles FC is No. 1 at $900 million, followed by LA Galaxy ($865 million), Atlanta United ($855 million), Seattle Sounders ($725 million) and Toronto FC ($705 million).
Charlotte FC continues to rank among the league’s top five in attendance and merchandise sales and also ranks among the highest in season ticket prices.
Tepper No. 3 richest: Tepper, who built his fortune in hedge funds, is worth in the neighborhood of $18.5 billion now, according to Forbes. He’s No. 3 on the Forbes’ latest list of “America’s Richest Sports Teams Owners,” behind only Los Angeles Clippers owner and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (worth $83 billion) and Denver Broncos owner and former Walmart chairman Rob Walton ($56.7 billion).
Tepper Sports & Entertainment also owns the Carolina Panthers and Bank of America Stadium, where both the Panthers and Charlotte FC play.
Game, Fan Appreciation Night, expected to be a go
Despite rain and storms expected in Charlotte Friday night, forecasts for later in the day Saturday are better. The hope is that conditions will be wet but playable for Saturday’s 5:30 p.m. kickoff against Philadelphia. Barring something unforeseen, officials are expecting the game to be played.
“Hopefully by the time the game gets underway we will be facing an acceptable weather,” Lattanzio said Thursday. “(It might) not the best that we can hope for but at least that we can play.”
Charlotte FC is opening the upper deck for just the fourth time this season. (It was open for the March 5 home-opener vs. L.A. Galaxy, the July 9 game against Nashville and the July 20 exhibition against Chelsea.) Some 40,000 tickets have been sold so far for Saturday night’s game against Philadelphia, including seats in 14 upper deck sections along the North side of the stadium. Tickets in the upper deck are going for as little as $15 apiece.
T-shirts AND ponchos: As a thank you to fans on Fan Appreciation Night, Charlotte FC is giving out T-shirt with lyrics to the “Mighty Black and Blue” chant to everyone who comes to the game, in the hopes of creating a “black-out.” Given the rainy weather expected, Charlotte FC also decided to distribute ponchos to the first 25,000 fans who enter the stadium.
Football markings again: The heavy rain in the forecast for Friday and Saturday means the team will play the field marked for both Charlotte FC (yellow lines) as well as for the Carolina Panthers (white lines) on Saturday evening. Given the wet conditions, there wouldn’t be enough time to paint football lines Saturday night and have them dry in time for Sunday’s Panthers 4:05 p.m. game against Arizona. Charlotte FC played against New York FC Sept. 10 with football markings on the field as well.
Up Next: Charlotte FC (12-17-2) vs. Philadelphia Union (18-4-10)
When/Where: 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte
How to watch: WAXN (Channel 64), Telemundo, or live stream at www.charlottefootballclub/live or on the Charlotte FC app. Local restrictions apply.
The Philadelphia Union has the best record in the Eastern Conference and already clinched a playoff spot. Perhaps, then, the hope is Charlotte can catch the Union less motivated for a win. Philadelphia is 11-0-5 at home this season, but 7-4-5 on the road.
Charlotte FC lost in Philadelphia 2-0 on April 2 in what seems like ages ago, playing a conservative five-back defensive line under previous head coach Miguel Angel Ramirez.
Under must-win pressure in the playoff hunt, Charlotte has won two in a row, 1-0 against New York FC and a 3-2 come-from-behind win in Chicago.
Charlotte FC needs a win or tie to be assured of staying alive in the playoff hunt. If they lose, then Miami would have to either lose to or tie Toronto AND Columbus would have to lose to or tie the New York Red Bulls. For full breakdown of the playoff scenarios check out last week’s Futbol Friday.
Carroll Walton is a longtime baseball writer with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution now cutting her teeth on soccer and the Charlotte FC just as fans in Charlotte do. She would love to hear from you. E-mail her with questions, suggestions, story ideas and comments!
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