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Storylines | Proof In The Pedigree


Greetings, my fellow birdwatching enthusiasts! Storylines here, and I hope you’re all having a phenomenal week. But, if you’re not, keep your chin up, because there's always next week, or the one after that, and so on. As for the Loons, they’re hoping to find those Sunday Funday vibes when they face off against Charlotte FC for the very first time. And, the kind of fun you have when you walk out of Bank of America Stadium with a W. By no means is that a foregone conclusion. If anything, it may be a tougher task than one might assume due to the fact that Charlotte FC is filling the stadium with just as many fans as their NFL counterparts. It’s impressive to see that kind of support behind a franchise that’s only entering its third season in Major League Soccer. But, it may not be as surprising when you look at the resume of the man that has led Charlotte’s ongoing evolution.

That man would be head coach Dean Smith, but he’s not that Dean Smith. If you’re a sports fan, you clearly understand that the name “Dean Smith” carries a lot of weight in the state of North Carolina. But, when you look beyond the irony of a Carolina-based team with a head coach named Dean Smith, you can see that Charlotte FC’s head man has an outstanding pedigree in English soccer, both as a player and coach.

Smith first put himself on the coaching radar at Walsall in England’s League One, where he saved the club from relegation and built a winning organization, reaching the Football League Trophy final in 2015. But it was his time at Aston Villa that really raised his profile as a manager, taking the reins in October of 2018 with the club sitting in 15th place in the English second division. Under his tutelage, the club found its mojo and rose up the standings to land a spot in the promotion playoffs and give Aston Villa the opportunity to return to the English Premier League. With a young playmaker named Jack Grealish at the core of their attack, the club went on to take down Derby County to earn a spot in arguably the best league in the world, where they have remained ever since.

Clearly, Dean Smith has a knack for leading clubs out of peril and into the promised land, and he appears to be following that same blueprint with Charlotte. And, I find it interesting that this match features a pair of head coaches who boast impressive pedigrees within English soccer, but at two different stages of their coaching journeys. Dean Smith made the most of his opportunities at nearly every level of English football, earning a reputation for rejuvenating a club’s long-term fortunes. It’s likely one of the reasons why a young club (in MLS years) such as Charlotte would seek out a proven commodity like Smith and bring him into the ranks of Major League Soccer. But, for Ramsay, who spoke candidly in his first presser about turning down a number of head coaching offers in England, it’s a similar but different situation. He believed that the head coaching gig with Minnesota United was the best opportunity to kickstart his career. And, while his first head coaching job isn’t in the realm of English football, let’s hope that Ramsay can show himself to be the US-version of The Office to Smith’s UK-version. Drawing inspiration from those who came before, and creating an even more successful legacy in the process.

Match Details:

Charlotte FC vs. Minnesota United FC

Bank of America Stadium | Charlotte, North Carolina

04.21.2024 | MLS Matchday No. 10 | 5:00 p.m. CT

Watch It Free on AppleTV’s MLS Season Pass