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Also, forward Andre Shinyashiki joins Charlotte FC from the Colorado Rapids
Former Charlotte FC team president and current Tepper Sports & Entertainment CEO Nick Kelly announced today that he is stepping down.
"I want to thank Mr. and Mrs. Tepper, as well as the entire Tepper Sports & Entertainment organization, for giving me the opportunity to build a club, culture, and fanbase from the ground up at Charlotte FC," Kelly said in a statement. "It has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and for that, I will be forever grateful and a fan."
When he was originally announced as Charlotte FC president in 2021, Kelly said, “The first 45 days are a priority for us. It’s getting a one-year plan in place. When you think about the middle of February, we’ll be one year out from kickoff. We’ll have one year to get it right.” Two 45-day periods after taking the helm as TSE president this year, Kelly is out of a job.
I don’t want to speculate about why this happened, or if/how it’s connected to the headquarters faceoff in Rock Hill since those facts will be much clearer soon. What we can look at are successes and failures under his leadership.
In the leadup to Charlotte’s first home match, all eyes were on whether or not Charlotte FC could beat the MLS attendance record. Kelly didn’t shy away from a focus on attendance either, and Charlotte beat the record with 74,479 fans on opening night. Charlotte has also averaged 30,000 or more fans each home game, exceeding another one of Kelly’s goals for Charlotte FC and TSE.
The team has also succeeded at building a culture and creating a fun atmosphere. There are players like Karol Swiderski and Kristijan Kahlina who have brought a lot of excitement to matches. The team has a winning record at home, which helps, and they’re in a wide-open playoff race, even if last week’s fixture put them at 10th on the Eastern Conference table. For an expansion team, Charlotte FC is in a perfectly reasonable place.
However, TSE has gone through multiple major shakeups this year, and the current battle between Tepper and the City of Rock Hill - with a population the size of Charlotte’s opening night match attendance - seems reminiscent of the battles between then-Speedway Motorsports president Bruton Smith and the City of Concord. We’ll be watching as this story develops.
Forward Andre Shinyashiki joins Charlotte FC
Yesterday, Charlotte FC announced the Club acquired forward Andre Shinyashiki from the Colorado Rapids for $225,000 in 2022 general allocation money with a conditional $175,000 GAM if certain performance incentives are met. The Rapids would also retain 50% of any potential trade fee Charlotte receives for Shinyashiki’s rights.
At a press conference today, Shin said he “didn’t think twice” about taking on a new challenge when Charlotte FC came calling. He believes the team has handled many of the challenges that an expansion team faces.
Also, expect to see Shinyashiki closer to the goal than he was as a player for the Colorado Rapids. “Expect me to play higher up in the field than I did in Colorado.” In Colorado, he played as a winger initially but said “my record as a striker was pretty good … my preferred position would be [striker].” It’s clear he’s looking to be an immediate contributor up front, making assists and scoring goals.
When I asked Andre about what he sees as the team’s strengths, he gave me an answer I wasn’t expecting: “[Coach] Miguel [Ángel Ramírez] puts players in positions that cause uncertainty and difficulty for the other team.” He likes how Coach Ramírez uses different formations and and matchups to throw other players, and believes his versatility will be an asset with the Coach’s style of management.
Also, with the quality of Charlotte’s players, Shinyashiki doesn’t think it’s going to be a problem to score goals during the second third of the season. “I think that Karol [Swiderski] is an exceptional player … I’ve enjoyed playing with him.”
Shinyashiki, who was named the 2019 MLS Rookie of the Year following a seven goal and three assist season, has played 86 league matches for the Rapids. The Brazilian scored 16 goals and added six assists during his time in Colorado.