Here is our preview of the Colorado Rapids USL affiliate, Charlotte Independence. They open their USL season at home against Louisville City FC this Saturday at 5:00 PM MDT and the match will be streamed via YouTube. We will have a How to Watch segment for this match and every Independence match this season as we begin our second season covering Charlotte.
Year founded: 2015
Affiliation: Colorado Rapids
2015 record: 10-8-10 (WLD)--7th place
2015 playoffs: Did not qualify
Key additions: Yann Ekra, Jun Marques Davidson, Lewis Hilton, Christopher Hellman
Key departures: Ryan Finley, John Berner
Team overview heading into season: The Charlotte Independence finished agonizingly close to the playoffs in 2015, missing by a single point. They were in playoff position with two matches left and all that was needed was a point in their final two games but were outscored on the road 5-1 and ultimately missed. The Independence will be looking to change that in 2016.
Missing the playoffs has created a hunger in the team this season and the team will be looking to make their first trip to the postseason, but to do that they need to score goals. They were the eighth most potent team in the Eastern Conference (in terms of scoring goals), so the team will need to find the back of the net if they are going to be successful in 2016.
Why you should watch the Independence in 2016: The Independence play a good possession based brand of soccer that prefers to build from the back and push the ball forward from their backline and develop through the midfield. They don't play route one soccer and prefer crisp passing and patient build-up. It is enjoyable to watch, even if it does not produce a great amount of scoring.
3 Players to watch:
Jorge Herrera--the leader of this team, he is the engine that makes Charlotte go
The Goalkeepers--No John Berner means a great opportunity for Cody Mizell and Kyle Renfro to take the job
Caleb Calvert--the former Chivas USA homegrown has not been able to crack an MLS roster. Will this be the year he takes the next step and develops his game in USL? And if he develops that game in USL, will that translate to playing time with the Rapids or another organization?
The 2016 season will be a success if: The 2016 Independence season hinges of two things: scoring more goals and road form. The Independence were dreadful on the road and that record ultimately led to them not making the playoffs. Charlotte managed a 2-6-6 record away from home (tied for 10th in the Eastern Conference) and that was not going to be good enough to make a real run at the playoffs. For the Independence to be serious about making the playoffs they must correct their road form and find a way to score more goals.
Relevant links about Charlotte: