Come on down! Charlotte FC goes shopping
By Steve Goldberg
In the MLS version of Black Friday, Charlotte FC went on a shopping spree last Thursday as the league’s
summer transfer window drew to a close. Let’s take a look at what ended up in the cart at the end of Prime Day.
The Crown signed 23-year-old Portuguese attacking midfielder Nuno Santos to a contract until 2024
with an option for 2025. He will occupy an international roster slot on the Club’s 2022 roster. Santos made 74 appearances with seven goals and five assists in the Portuguese first division across three different loan spells from S.L. Benfica with Moreirense FC, Boavista FC, and FC Paços de Ferreira. His best season came with Paços de Ferreira in 2021-22, scoring five goals and adding two assists in 31 appearances.
He also boasts significant experience for Portugal’s youth national teams, including as a member of the Portugual U-19 side that won the 2018 UEFA U-19 European Championship where he came off the bench in a victory over Italy in the final. He made two appearances at the 2019 U-20 World Cup and has racked up 44 total appearances ranging from the U-16 to U-21 national teams. “Nuno is an intelligent attacking midfielder who chose to join Charlotte FC over European interest because he believes in our project and how this league develops young talent. He has already competed at a high level on some of the biggest stages in Portugal, European competitions and youth international football,” said Sporting Director Zoran Krneta. “Nuno comes to us at a good age and will be entering his prime adding valuable attacking options to the team as we continue to strengthen our roster for 2022 and beyond.”
From the defender department comes Adilson Malanda from French club Rodez AF to a contract through 2025 with an option for 2026. The 20-year-old will occupy an international roster slot on the Club’s 2022 roster. The 6’3” centerback began his career with Nîmes and made his senior debut in Ligue 1 in December 2020 against Dijon. Malanda, who joined Rodez in 2021 played 33 times in Ligue 2 during his debut season. He began the 2022/23 campaign helping the French side keep a clean sheet against Quevilly Rouen last weekend. “Adilson is an exciting, young central defender who comes to us after an excellent first full season as a professional in France. We’re delighted to sign him and strengthen the spine of our team,” said Krneta. “He’s a balanced player that fits our game model as he blends athleticism with quality and comfortability on the ball when playing out of the back. Part of our strategy in the summer window is not only bringing in competitive depth to help us as the season winds down, but to also add more building blocks that sets our squad up for success down the road. We believe Adilson has the potential to develop into an important player for us in the years ahead.”
Also from that aisle comes English right-back Nathan Byrne, signed to a contract until 2024 with an option for 2025. The 30-year-old right back will occupy an international roster slot on the Club’s 2022 roster. Byrne appeared in 373 league games in the English Championship and League One totaling 15 goals and 44 assists across the two divisions. He’s played the last four full seasons in the Championship with Wigan Athletic and Derby County. He started 41 out of 46 league games in each of the last two Championship seasons for Derby County where he teamed up with current CLTFC player Kamil Jozwiak. His experience including a surprising run to the FA Cup Quarterfinals with then League One side Wigan Athletic which saw Byrne play all 180 minutes in back-to-back upsets over Premier League sides West Ham United and Manchester City. “Nathan is a well rounded, versatile right back who has proven his ability in a very competitive and physical English Championship.
He is a top pro who brings added veteran leadership to our dressing room,” said Krneta. “His experience will provide valuable competition in the squad as we continue to add pieces to our roster to continue to build on our competitive foundation moving forward.” The Tottenham Hotspur academy product broke through in League
One with Swindon Town in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons. He particularly shone in his second season, reaching double-digit assists (10) and adding three goals. Following brief spells with Wolverhampton Wanderers and Charlton Athletic, Byrne helped Wigan Athletic earn promotion from League One to the English Championship with six assists in 44 games. He then established himself at the Championship level as a full-time starter at Wigan for two years. An eight-assist, one-goal season in 2019-20 sealed a move to Derby County, where he continued to be a strong two-way presence for Wayne Rooney’s side. His teammates named him Players’ Player of the Year following the 2021-22 season. All incoming international player moves are pending receipt of a P-1 visa and International Transfer Certificate.
On Wednesday, the club announced the signing of 16-year-old academy midfielder Brian Romero to a Homegrown contract through 2026 with an option for 2027. A week prior, Romero entered the exhibition match against Chelsea FC in the 89th minute and immediately changed the outcome, dribbling into the box and winning a penalty kick that evened the score and sent the match into a shootout won by the Crown.
Romero, from Concord, NC, is a United States youth national team player who joined Charlotte FC’s academy in 2020 as a 14-year-old from Charlotte Soccer Academy. He began with the U-15s before progressing to the U-17 team. “Becoming Charlotte FC’s first Homegrown signing is a dream come true. It’s an emotional moment for me and my family and I’m very excited for what is to come as a professional,” said Romero. Romero was one of two academy players to train with the First Team during preseason preparations in Charleston and has been invited to continue training throughout 2022 season.
“Brian is a tremendous young man who loves to play football and has a hunger to become the best
player he can be. He’s shown his talent at the academy level and for the youth national team and has
the potential to become one of the country’s top talents,” said Krneta. “This is a signing for our future.
Brian still has to grow and adjust to senior football, but we have a specific plan for his development, and
he will be learning under coaches with a true passion for mentoring and developing young players.”
Charlotte FC was also a seller, sending Christian Makoun to New England in exchange for $400,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) and up to $375,000 GAM in performance-based incentives. The deal includes $143,327 GAM in 2022 and $256,673 GAM in 2023. Additionally, Inter Miami will maintain 15% of total gross future sales from a previous trade. CLTFC acquired Makoun from Inter Miami CF in exchange for the No. 1 Allocation Ranking spot earlier this year. The Venezuelan played in 13 MLS matches for CLTFC, totaling 852 minutes.
A week prior, the club waived attacking midfielder Titi Ortiz. The 29-year-old from Argentina had one goal and two assists across 15 games (eight starts). He was originally signed in mid-January, arriving on loan from Liga MX’s Club Tijuana through the 2022 season with a purchase option. Ortiz was the second outgoing player who had worked with former head coach Miguel Angel Ramirez at Ecuadorian side Independiente del Valle. The other was Ecuador national team midfielder Alan Franco, who was loaned to Argentina’s CA Talleres in late June.