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Charlotte FC introduces head coach Dean Smith

Charlotte FC

Charlotte FC introduced its new head coach, former Premier League manager Dean Smith, with his first press conference on Monday. Smith is now the club’s third head coach in three years.

“I'm really looking forward to the opportunity and the challenge that it's going to be. We want to have a successful and consistent culture at this football club,” Smith said.

Smith has both managerial and professional player experience in England. His playing career as a center-back began in 1989 at the Walsall Football Club. Smith finished his career in 2005, having appeared in 566 matches and scored 54 goals

He returned to Walsall in 2011 to begin his coaching career. Since then, Smith has managed several teams in England, including Aston Villa, which was promoted to the Premier League during the 2018-19 season.

While Smith has spent his playing and managerial career in England, he has a family connection to the Carolinas. His son Jamie Smith played college soccer in North Carolina and is now a player in the United Soccer League with Greenville Triumph SC.

“I've been coming to the Carolinas for the last six years,” said Smith.

“My son studied here for four years first at Limestone, then at NC State, also played soccer for Asheville and now at Greensville. So I've got to know the Carolinas pretty well and really enjoyed the world hospitality, but also the community side and their love for soccer.”

Last season, Charlotte clinched its first playoff berth on the final day of the season but fell in the Wild Card to the New York Red Bulls. Despite Smith leading the charge of a club that is in its infancy, he said he’s motivated to make improvements.

“If I sat here and said I haven't come to do anything but win the MLS Cup, I shouldn't have been hired,” Smith said. “Because the role is for anybody is to be as ambitious as possible and my ambitions are to bring the MLS trophy here, whether that be next year or the year after, but that's my ambition and, you know, the players will know that as soon as they get here.”

So far in the club’s short history, its first two coaches were fired. Miguel Angel Ramirez was dismissed after 14 games. Then Christian Lattanzio took over, but was fired at the end of last season despite the playoff appearance.

Charlotte FC Sporting Director Zoran Krenta said the decision to move on the next coach was a reflection of the club’s thinking that they had underperformed their potential.

“When we looked at the end season, and did the review of the season, we just felt we came short of what expectations are.  What the ownership expectations are, all of us, really.”

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Kenny is a Maryland native who began his career in media as a sportswriter at Tuskegee University, covering SIAC sports working for the athletic department and as a sports correspondent for the Tuskegee Campus Digest. Following his time at Tuskegee, he was accepted to the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program as a Marketing Intern for The NASCAR Foundation in Daytona Beach, Florida in 2017.