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Charlotte Independence Adds Charlotte Independence Soccer Club's Blake Pope on Academy Deal

By CJ Bradley , 04/29/21, 5:00PM EDT

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18-year-old midfielder is the first member of the 2021 Independence roster to sign an academy contract.

 April 29, 2021 (CHARLOTTE, N.C.) — The Charlotte Independence continues its youth developmental success with the signing of midfielder and Charlotte Independence Soccer Club standout Blake Pope to a USL Academy contract, pending league and federation approval. Pope will be eligible for action with the Independence as the 2021 USL Championship season kicks off for the Jacks on Saturday, May 1 vs. the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

“Blake came in with us at the start of preseason and has proved to be up to the speed of play,” said Charlotte Independence General Manager and Head Coach Mike Jeffries. “He offers an interesting dynamic in terms of his pace and technical ability. He has a great engine, works really hard, and we think he is a guy that can compete for time on the field as the season goes on.”

Launched in 2019, Independence Soccer Club’s affiliation with the Charlotte Independence provides players a clear pathway to the highest level of professional soccer. Pope is the first Independence Soccer Club player of 2021 signed to an academy contract with the first team.

“I am very honored and excited to be able to wear this badge and represent this amazing city,” said Pope. “Ready to do what it takes to win. Super excited to learn from the staff, my new teammates and the veterans in the locker room.”

Pope currently plays for Independence Soccer Club’s U19 Pro Academy and will be joining the Charlotte 49ers men's soccer program to continue his soccer career as a student-athlete.

Pope joins Jake Areman, Brandt Bronico (on loan from Charlotte FC), Christian Dean, Clay Dimick, Shalom Dutey, Junior Etou, Joel Johnson, Enzo Martinez, Tresor Mbuyu, Brandon Miller, Austin Pack, Marcelo Palomino (on loan from Houston Dynamo FC), Noah Paravicini, Irvin Parra, Hugh Roberts, Kevin Riascos, Valentin Sabella (currently loaned to Cancun FC), and Thomas de Villardi, Distel Zola on the list of players confirmed for the 2021 season, as the club continues to negotiate with additional players.

PLAYER PROFILE

Name: Blake Pope

Position: Midfielder

Year of Birth: 2003

Birthplace: Prosper, TX

Height: 6' 0"

CURRENT 2021 CHARLOTTE INDEPENDENCE ROSTER

Goalkeeper – Brandon Miller, Austin Pack

Defender – Christian Dean, Clay Dimick, Shalom Dutey, Joel Johnson, Kevin Riascos, Hugh Roberts, Thomas de Villardi

Midfielder – Jake Areman, Brandt Bronico, Junior Etou, Enzo Martinez, Marcelo PalominoNoah Paravicini, Blake Pope, Valentin Sabella, Distel Zola

Forward – Tresor Mbuyu, Irvin Parra

The Independence will make the 2021 campaign its first season at the brand new American Legion Memorial Stadium. The $40 million entire rebuild of the historic venue which began last September is close to completion and is set to open a new chapter for the Jacks.

Located in Uptown Charlotte, the new venue will have a capacity of 10,500 including standing area, and the type of amenities that have become standard at new venues across the Championship in recent years. Among them, a first for the Independence, will be a full video scoreboard and views of the surrounding city skyline that will make for a memorable experience on game-nights and at other events.

2021 Season Tickets are now on sale to the general public here.

ABOUT CHARLOTTE INDEPENDENCE: The Charlotte Independence professional soccer team joined the United Soccer League (USL) Championship as an expansion team in September 2014. An ownership group led by Jim McPhilliamy, the President & Managing Partner of Major League Lacrosse’s Charlotte Hounds, acquired the USL franchise rights from the Charlotte Eagles. McPhilliamy and his investment group founded Queen City Sports Club with the goal of making Charlotte a better place to live through annual increases in both the quality and quantity of events that are provided for the community.

In the fall of 2018, Queen City Sports Club and the Charlotte Independence signed a 10-year lease to move to American Legion Memorial Stadium following a revitalization of the historic landmark set for the spring of 2021. The Independence is focused on building the profile of the club through culture, community and performance as the team moves to American Legion Memorial Stadium. For details on 2021 Season Memberships, visit charlotteindependence.com or call 704-206-1515.

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