Soccer has been become a popular topic in the Queen City in recent months, mainly because of Charlotte’s bid to land a MLS expansion team. But what some people might not realize is Charlotte already has a professional soccer team, the Charlotte Independence.
Here’s a quick look at Charlotte’s current pro soccer team.
No place like home
The Independence have a new home for the 2017 season. They play at the Matthews Sportsplex’s new championship stadium for all of its home games this season.
The stadium, which seats 2,500, was unveiled in June and the Independence have become pretty comfortable at their new digs, posting a 4-1-3 record.
The brand new Mecklenburg County facility is constructed with attention to detail and excellence in fan experience in mind. Features include a High-Definition video board, three restroom facilities, a pair of roofed picnic pavilions, a fully concreted concourse, VIP event rooms, and two entries/exits for traffic.
The stadium is located near Independence Boulevard and I-485, only a few minutes from downtown Matthews.
The Independence play in the United Soccer League (USL). The league formed when two existing professional leagues were combined into a single league property before the 2011 season. The USL’s 30 teams are divided into two conferences – Eastern and Western – with each team set to play 32 games over 30 weeks during the 2017 regular season.
The Independence are in the Eastern Conference and joined the USL as an expansion team in September 2014 after acquiring the USL franchise rights for the city from the Charlotte Eagles.
Prior to moving to the Matthews Sportsplex, the Independence played their home games at the Ramblewood Soccer Complex off of Nations Ford Road.
A history lesson about the team and fans
The Queen City Royals are an unofficial supporters group for the Charlotte Independence and all things soccer in the Queen City, according to their website. You can see them at every Independence home game – and some away games – wearing their teal and purple.
Jack’s Militia name comes from Captain Jack, who is a part of the reason the team was named the Independence. Here is a brief history lesson on the team name:
In 1775, the citizens of Charlotte learned of the massacre of colonists by the British at the Battle of Concord and Lexington. Angered at this news and already burdened by the oppressive, unjust laws of King George III, a group of citizens met through the night and into the morning of May 20th to draft the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. It marked the first ever document in United States history to call for complete independence and was signed by Mecklenburg citizens on May 20, 1775.
A young tavern owner, Captain James Jack, volunteered to take the treasonous documents to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. Captain Jack risked his livelihood to transport the documents. Captain Jack arrived safely in Philadelphia in June of 1775, demanding Mecklenburg County’s declaration of independence be read into record.
Captain Jack has become a legendary figure of Charlotte Mecklenburg history. The team and it’s logo reflect Mecklenburg County’s Declaration of Independence and Captain Jack.
— Jack's Militia (@JacksMilitia) February 27, 2016
Join the fun
The Independence season starts in April and runs through October. The Independence offer several different ticket packages for all fans to enjoy: four game mini-package, birthday package, pre-game meet & greet with players and single tickets.
Ticket prices range from $15 to $50 for single game tickets and family of four packages.
The Independence are currently sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference with a 9-3-6 record. They have eight home games left in the season.
Kids can get involved with the Junior Jacks program. The Independence launched the Junior Jacks kids program this year for their young supporters. Members become a part of the team and enjoy exciting events throughout the season.
-Admission to all 16 home 2017 regular season games
-Free Junior Jacks exclusive t-shirt
-Exclusive, fun prizes
-Free youth clinic hosted by the Independence players and staff
-Access to sign up for any Independence soccer camps first
-Exclusive opportunity to meet their favorite players
-Receive an exclusive membership card
-10% off on Independence merchandise
The food and drink at the home games are covered by local sponsors such as Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, NoDa Brewery and Sycamore Brewery. The Independence also have a sponsorship with local Chick-fil-a’s and Libretto’s Pizzeria that provide food at the home games.
Finally, if you do decide to watch a game, here are a few players to watch on the pitch for the Independence. Midfielder Jorge Herrera continues to have an impressive season. He scored his 50th career USL goal against the New York Red Bulls II. He was also selected to the USL Team of the Week.
Brothers Alex and Enzo Martinez continue to energize this year’s Independence squad with their great play. Enzo is a forward and one of the team’s top scorers. Alex has come up with big plays through out the season for the Independence and is expected to help carry the squad later in the season.