- Eight months ago, the Charlotte Eagles were preparing for the final piece in their successful 2008 USL-2 campaign. If the team was confident, they had reason to be. After all, they had the league MVP (Dustin Swinehart), the league’s best offense and second best defense. However, the Regular Season Champions were upset in the final by third seeded Cleveland 2-1.
Although the team showed no evidence of bitterness after such a remarkable 2008 campaign, it is clear they have not forgotten. In fact, it was a popular question yesterday as the media watched the team train at Elon Park for the 2009 Media Day.
"You know, obviously we’ve got a lot of the guys from last year’s team back so yea there’s definitely some motivation there," stated veteran Dustin Swinehart. "Definitely not a sour taste in our mouth or a chip on the shoulder, or anything like that. But I think all of us feel there is some unfinished business to be taken care of. We had a great year last year; we’ve had a lot of great seasons over the years. You can’t take away from that. But this is a team of competitors, and anytime you get a chance to play for a championship you want to do whatever you can to get back there."
That first step begins this Saturday at a special kickoff time of 2:00pm at Charlotte Christian Stadium. First up for Swinehart and the Eagles, the Wilmington Hammerheads.
"You can’t ever expect an easy game with Wilmington," remarked Coach Mark Steffens. "It has been a great rivalry over the years. The games are always close and we always expect a great game with a lot of offense. Wilmington has a very direct style of play compared to our more possession style, and they can be very hard to defend. It should be a great game for the guys, and we’re hoping we can come out on top."
The Eagles also released their complete 2009 roster, which can be seen at www.CharlotteEagles.com
with complete bios on all Eagles players. The most notable losses for the Eagles in 2009 are midfielder Joseph Kabwe (signed with USL-1 Railhawks), goalkeeper Terry Boss (signed with MLS Red Bull New York), midfielder Jonah Long (retired) and forward Robert Ssejjemba (career ending knee injury in 2008 Final).
The good news is in the returners and new pickups in 2009. Kevin Trapp brings experience to the goalkeeping position just where the Eagles needed it, as well as 18 other returning players including MVP finalist Jorge Herrera and Defender of the Year finalists Steve Shak and Brady Bryant.
The additions are just as notable with two-time MVP and three-time scoring champion Jacob Coggins returning after a year with the Railhawks in the 1st division. Also returning after a successful year in the USL-1 is Chris Lemons who will fill the much needed role left open by Jonah Long’s retirement.
Other welcome newcomers include Brazilian stars Diego Martins and Amaury Nunes who will look to make an immediate impact, as well as former Cleveland standout Luke Williams.
Tickets for the Charlotte Eagles Opening Day at Charlotte Christian Stadium are on sale now at www.CharlotteEagles.com
. Kickoff is slated for 2pm. Gates open at 1pm. All tickets at the gate are $10/adults and $7/students (ages 6-18). Kids 5 and Under are always FREE.