By Ryan Bailey
Charlotte FC’s sixth signing is a Carolina native who brings youth, dynamism and international experience to the roster
CHARLOTTE—On the day Charlotte FC’s sixth signing was born, the number one single on the Billboard charts was ‘Dilemma’ by Nelly and Kelly Rowland.
In the 18 years since that song dominated the airwaves, precocious left-back Adam Armour has risen through the ranks of youth club systems in the Carolinas, trained professionally at the USL level, followed some of the biggest talents in American soccer to take up a contract with a German club, and traveled the world with representing his country.
And now, the teenager will take a place on the inaugural roster of a Major League Soccer team in his home state of North Carolina.
Unlike the protagonists of the song that topped the charts 18 years ago, Armour faced no dilemma in his decision to come to the Queen City.
“It’s really exciting to come to Charlotte, where I know a lot of people,” says Armour, a native of Cary, N.C. “It feels good to be able to help start the club off on the right foot and set the standard for seasons to come. And it is very exciting to know I will be playing at the highest level in the United States.”
Like his new teammate Brandt Bronico, Armour earned his soccer education within the youth club system of the Carolinas. When he wasn’t playing pickup with his older brother, he represented the reputed Raleigh club CASL (which would later become North Carolina FC Youth).
“I played against a lot of local Carolina teams growing up and it was very competitive,” says Armour. “There were big rivalries between clubs all around the Carolinas and everyone wanted to be the best—that mentality was a big part of my development.”
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After training with the North Carolina FC USL side, Armour was presented with an opportunity that has proven to be a stepping stone to stardom for some of the United States’ most elite talent: a contract with a German club.
In July 2020, following a successful trial period, Armour signed with nine-time German champions FC Nürnberg’s U19 team. However, his time in Germany was hindered when the season was canceled due to Covid-19.
“It was exciting when I got the call up, because playing in Europe is something I’d always wanted to do,” says Armour. “It was a little tough when I went there, as everything was closed and the season ended up getting canceled. But I was there for 10 months, so I had to make the most of it. I trained hard and learned a lot from being there, in terms of maturity, on and off the field. I do think I grew a good amount as a player while there.”
Before heading to Germany, Armour was aware that he was a long-term target of a certain fledgling Major League Soccer team. The versatile fullback was on the radar of Charlotte FC Director of Scouting Thomas Schaling during his time with PSV Eindhoven, and was tracked by Technical Director Marc Nicholls while with the Seattle Sounders.
“I learned about Charlotte FC’s interest in me right before I went to Nürnberg,” says Armour. “I knew Charlotte wouldn’t be starting as a club right away, so I wanted to go to Germany for a year to see how things went there first.”
For Schaling, Nicholls and the scouting team, a young, talented domestic fullback from the local region was an obvious choice for recruitment.
“Adam has good athletic potential, great determination and he likes to overlap and get forward with the ball,” says Schaling. “Our main goal with him in the next six months is to get him the training environment and game time he needs to help him develop to the level where he is ready for pre-season with our first team.”
Prior to first kick in 2022, Armour will be playing in the Queen City alongside Bronico on loan with the Charlotte Independence.
“Adam is heading to the Independence, where he has the opportunity to stay close to us,” said Charlotte FC President Nick Kelly on the Mint City Collective podcast. “We will be able to monitor his training, and he will be working with Brandt [Bronico], and that puts us in a position where we’re going to set him up for success.”
Armour describes himself as a versatile player who can read the game well, get in an opponents’ head, play with the ball at his feet, and cause problems in the attacking third. He cites Brazilian left-back Marcelo as the player he most admired growing up and speaks highly of Bayern Munich’s Canadian star Alphonso Davies.
Charlotte FC’s sixth signing possesses talent and maturity beyond his years—and he is also the first player on the roster to have represented the United States Men’s National Team. The teenager earned valuable tournament experience at the 2019 FIFA U17 World Cup in Brazil and the 2019 Concacaf U17 Championship.
“I first got called up in 2018 for some Nike International Friendlies, and then I stayed with the team from that point on,” says Armour. “Being able to represent my country at a World Cup and play against the very best players of my age was definitely a surreal feeling. I have a lot of positive memories with the national team.”
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Armour is also aware that success in MLS could be pivotal in his ambitions to play for the senior national team.
“I think MLS has very good exposure to national team staff and coaches, and I feel it definitely will help my chances if I come in and do well. Being with an MLS club right now will give me the opportunity I need.”
Armour is enthused when discussing the technical team that Charlotte FC is building—and is particularly animated at the prospect of learning from teammate Christian Fuchs.
“It’s massive for my development to learn from someone who is so experienced and a winner at the highest level,” says Armour. “I’m really excited to get in with him and learn everything he has to teach!”
The 18-year-old is eager to play in front of a home crowd at Bank of America Stadium (“The fans are going to play a big role in the success of the club,“ he notes) and is confident the club has all the ingredients required to prosper at the highest level.
“I always felt an MLS team is something we needed in the Carolinas—and I’m excited to finally have it, and be a part of it. I think it will be a really successful club so I am excited to see how it grows.”