By Ryan Bailey

Charlotte FC’s third signing is maintaining fitness, and helping youth players develop, by joining sessions with the Academy U17 squad

CHARLOTTE—While his loan for the 2021 season is being finalized, Brandt Bronico has been joining the U17 team in their training sessions.

Charlotte FC’s third professional signing is working with the senior Academy squad for two sessions per week at Manchester Meadows in Rock Hill, S.C.

The arrangement is mutually beneficial: the 25-year-old is able to bolster his pre-season fitness regime while passing on the expertise from his elite-level career to Charlotte’s fledgling talents.

“It’s really good fun to run around with these guys,” said Bronico after a training session on Wednesday. “There are some really good players on this team, and it’s been a pleasure to help these guys out while getting some touches on the ball. It feels great to be training in an organized environment back home in Charlotte.”

Bronico—who played locally with the Carolina Dynamo, NC Fusion and the Charlotte 49ers, before spending three seasons with the Chicago Fire—is augmenting gym work and technical sessions with Academy training.

“The Academy players have been super welcoming. Ultimately, they all want to get better and want to play for the first team. They give me competition, and I try to help them out in any way I can.”

While Academy sessions may not match the competition levels and physicality of a first-team MLS squad, Bronico notes that the tactical approach and philosophy are similar to the top level.

“[Academy Manager] Dan Lock is doing a great job with the team, and it definitely replicates a pro environment,” he says.

Charlotte FC Technical Director Marc Nicholls describes Bronico as a “workaholic,” who is fastidious with his training regime and match preparation.

“It’s really great to have Brandt here,” says Nicholls, who coached the central midfielder with the Carolina Dynamo and NC Fusion. “You can see the players have raised their game in his presence, and this is exactly the kind of integration that we’re trying to build at the club.

“For Brandt, this is important as he’s had quite a long offseason, and needed a bit of soccer to help his pre-season fitness while we finalize a loan for him,” adds Nicholls. “Brandt asked to come out and do this, which is a big credit to him.”

Bronico—who signed for Charlotte FC on his wedding day— passionately speaks of his delight in returning to the Queen City.

“My wife and I are so happy to be back in Charlotte; we love it so much,” he says. “The weather has, for the most part, been beautiful, and it makes me happy to see old faces and catch up with friends.”

The High Point, N.C. native is also enthused about the prospect of representing the team on its inaugural roster.

“The 2022 season doesn’t really feel like it’s too far away,” says Bronico. “I’m sure the time will fly, and I’m definitely looking forward to it.”