By Ryan Bailey

In the buildup to Charlotte FC’s inaugural season, members of the inaugural roster are earning valuable game time with other clubs around the world. Here, we catch up with their progress…

Riley McGree (Birmingham City)

It’s been a busy summer for Riley McGree, who made his full senior debut for the Australian National team in June and represented his country at the 2022 Olympic Games in July.

The 22-year-old midfielder featured in two of the Olyroos’ matches in Tokyo, including the opening game in which Australia stunned a highly-favored Argentina side with a 2-0 win.

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Playing in an attacking role behind the striker against Argentina, McGree nearly found the net with an overhead kick—a strike that would have rivalled his Puskas-nominated scorpion kick. However, Cádiz goalkeeper Jeremías Ledesma saved the acrobatic effort.

Later in the game, McGree came close to finding the net once again when he spotted the goalkeeper off his line and attempted an audacious shot from the halfway line, which narrowly cleared the crossbar.

Following his time in Tokyo, McGree will return to Birmingham City. The English Championship side extended his loan contract at the end of last season.

Christian Fuchs (Charlotte Independence)

Former Premier League champion Christian Fuchs will be getting acquainted with the Queen City ahead of the inaugural season, as he is joining the Charlotte Independence for the remainder of the year.

“This is a great opportunity for Christian to maintain both his fitness level and focus in preparation for the start of Charlotte FC’s preseason training in January 2022,” said Charlotte FC Sporting Director Zoran Krneta.

“I spoke to [Independence Head Coach Mike Jeffries] a couple of times already and he seems to really know what he wants from his players, from the team, and it’s really exciting to be in Charlotte,” Fuchs told the official USL website. “My future, and the next coming years will be in Charlotte, but to get to know the city, get to know the players, I’m ready to help and support the team to be successful.”

Adam Armour (Charlotte Independence)

After becoming Charlotte FC’s sixth signing at the end of June, Adam Armour was loaned to the Independence. The 18-year-old has already, at the time of writing, played alongside fellow Carolina native Brandt Bronico in midfield twice—a home victory at Memorial Stadium over the Tampa Bay Rowdies and a road game at Charleston Battery.

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“I’ve had a great time with the Independence so far,” says Armour. “It feels good to be getting professional minutes under my belt and I’ve been learning so much from the matches I’ve played and the players I’ve been playing with.

“I’ve also been enjoying my time in Charlotte and it’s a very nice feeling to be back home in the Carolinas with my friends, family, and the amazing supporters.”

Brandt Bronico (Charlotte Independence)

Since confirming his loan spell for the 2021 season at the Charlotte Independence, Bronico has become a vital part of the USL side’s central midfield.

At the time of writing, the former Chicago Fire star has played every minute of every Independence game this season, including the aforementioned win over the Rowdies, during which he completed 24 accurate passes and took a shot on goal (per FotMob).

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“I am enjoying my time with the Independence,” says Bronico. “We are coming off of a good win and are looking to build on it.”

While Charlotte FC’s first kick may not come until 2022, Bronico is enjoying the opportunity to build rapport with fellow inaugural roster members Armour and Fuchs.

“It’s great having them both on board now,” says Bronico. “I definitely think it is an advantage to build some chemistry with them before 2022.

“Adam is settling in nicely—he’s a great player and hungry to learn and improve to be the best he can be. Having Christian around is awesome as well. He is training with us and, honestly, he is the definition of a true professional. He holds you to a high standard and competes day in and day out, while also being the most humble Premier League champion anyone will ever meet. I am super grateful to have them both around now, and going into 2022.”

Jan Sobocinski (LKS Lodz)

It’s been an eventful few months for Jan Sobocinski, who followed up the conclusion of ŁKS Łódź’s Polish second division campaign with… a wedding!

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The newly married 21-year-old defender will line up for Łódź in the 2021-22 campaign before his arrival in Charlotte.

“I hope that I will help to get as many points as possible for ŁKS, and that my teammates and fans will be able to celebrate promotion at the end of the season,” says Sobocinski. “I want to make the most of these few months. I will gain even more experience and prepare as best as possible for my move to Charlotte.”

Sergio Ruiz (Las Palmas)

In August, midfielder Sergio Ruiz will begin his second loan campaign with Las Palmas in Spain’s second division.

“We are forming a very good group of players,” says Ruiz, of his loan side. “The league is very competitive and promotion is very difficult. During my remaining time here I will try to help the team to climb as high in the table as possible.”

In 2020-21, Ruiz played in 37 of Las Palmas’ 42 games this season, notching five goals and six assists. The 26-year-old will play for the Canary Islands side until he joins up with Charlotte FC for the first-ever training camp in January 2022.

Ruiz is currently gearing up for the new domestic season. “I always like to go back into pre-season training,” says Ruiz. “I am very motivated and always wanting to improve my performance.”