Who are Jim McGuinness’ new soccer club Charlotte Independence?

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Following Jim McGuinness’ transition from Gaelic football to soccer in 2012, the Glenties man has been highly touted for several top managerial jobs. 

After guiding Donegal to an All-Ireland title in 2012, a part-time five-year spell with Celtic ended in 2017, with McGuinness expressing his desire to become a full-time soccer coach.

McGuinness ruled himself out of the running for the vacant Mayo senior football managerial hot seat in August, insisting that he is not looking for a return to GAA management.

His desire to manage in soccer was evident, so much so that the 46-year-old made the move to the Chinese Super League as an assistant coach of Beijing Sinobo Guoan F.C under Roger Schmidt.

On Friday morning, McGuinness was confirmed as the new head coach of Charlotte Independence, a second-tier outfit in Charlotte, North Carolina, on a three-year contract.

Founded in 2014, Charlotte Independence play in United Soccer League, one-tier below the ever-expanding Major League Soccer.

Four years ago, Independence acquired the USL Pro franchise rights for Charlotte from the Charlotte Eagles, one of the longest-serving U.S. soccer members, who moved into the amateur Premier Development League (PDL).

The East-Coast outfit currently play their soccer games at the Sportsplex at Matthews in Matthews, North Carolina, which has a capacity of 5,000.

Named after the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, a text published in 1819 with the claim that it was the first declaration of independence made against Great Britain, the North Carolina outfit have looked to McGuinness to guide them to success.

The USL Pro franchise finished 11th in the league last season, seven points from the final playoff spot, 35 points off top spot.

The American side were also knocked out in the second round of the U.S. Open Cup in May. 

There is no doubt that this has been the opportunity that McGuinness has been looking for, but it is certainly not going to be easy in a state where other sports take the certain stage.

Popular sports franchises such as the Carolina Panthers (NFL), the Carolina Hurricanes (NHL) and Charlotte Hornets (NBA) are the core of popular sports for Carolinians.

The USL announced in August that it will expand to a 33-week regular season in 2019, with the schedule to remain at 34 games for the second straight year.

The 2019 USL regular season is expected to kick off on the weekend of March 8-10, with the 33-week regular season set to conclude on the weekend of October 18-20. The 2018 USL Cup Playoffs would then kick off on the weekend of October 25-27, with the 2019 USL Cup set for the weekend of November 14-18.

Multimedia Sports Reporter from Derry currently repenting for my sins in Letterkenny. Recent journalism graduate. NUJ member.

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