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Pro Team Signs Independence SC Players

By James Thomas, 02/24/20, 5:00PM EST

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Independence adds academy players from Independence SC


16-year-old Independence SC players Owen Barber (left) and Joey Skinner (right) signed to 2020 USL Championship academy contracts

Charlotte (NC) — On Monday, the Charlotte Independence professional soccer team announced Owen Barber and Joey Skinner have signed academy contracts for the 2020 USL Championship season, pending league and federation approval. Both players are 16-year-old products of the Charlotte Independence SC youth academy. 

Launched in 2019, Independence SC’s affiliation with the Charlotte Independence professional soccer team provides players a clear pathway to the highest level of professional soccer. 

“I think it's huge,” said Independence Head Coach and General Manager, Mike Jeffries. “I think it's great for the [youth academy] players because they get in and they're training with a higher level and faster speed, with physical, stronger players. So they've got to be able to develop their mental skills and play at pace. I think it's really good for them to know what the next level is as they try to get there.”

“We've been talking about a professional pathway and that's one of the biggest reasons why we established this relationship with the [USL Championship team]; to be able to provide a professional pathway for our development academy players,” said Independence SC Development Academy Director, Jeff Bilyk. “For them to be able to get into this environment, play with professionals that do this for a living, it's just an unbelievable experience for our club and players.”

Barber signed an academy contract for the Independence last September and has logged significant playing time during the 2020 preseason. With the Independence SC U-17 Development Academy team, Skinner contributed to a three-game winning run in the Elite Division at the USL Academy Eastern Conference Regional Event in Tampa, Florida last week. 

“It's a great opportunity and I'm extremely blessed and thankful for the coaching staff here,” said Barber. “Overall, I think it's a testament to the unity in the club, that they really do want guys involved in the academy all the way up to the first team.”

Barber and Skinner mark the 16th and 17th players added to the 2020 Charlotte Independence roster. The club exercised team-options on four players’ contracts, reached new contracts with three returning players, made seven new signings, and added two academy contract players as the team prepares for the last preseason match on Saturday, February 29th. 

Current Charlotte Independence roster: 

Forward: Enzo Martinez, Dane Kelly 

Midfielder: Jake Areman, Kevan George, Valentin Sabella, Junior Etou, Oscar Ramsay, Derek Gebhard

Defender: Clay Dimick, Joel Johnson, Hugh Roberts, Casey Penland, Duke Lacroix, Owen Barber, Joey Skinner 

Goalkeeper: Brandon Miller, Austin Pack

The Charlotte Independence will open the 2020 USL Championship season at Sporting Kansas City II on Sunday, March 8th. The Independence will open the 2020 home schedule the following weekend on Saturday, March 14th against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC at the Sportsplex at Matthews. For more information on 2020 Season Memberships, please visit charlotteindependence.com or call the Independence front office at 704-206-1515.

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