CHARLOTTE, NC (July 12, 2016) — The Independence on Wednesday night welcome the English Premier League to Ramblewood Stadium for the first time as Charlotte takes on Swansea City A.F.C. in an international friendly scheduled to kick off at 7:30pm ET.
Established in 1912, the Welsh club based in Swansea, South Wales, battled for many years in the lower divisions before making a historic climb from near bankruptcy in the Fourth Division to the Premier League in 2011, becoming the first Welsh team to play in the top flight since the league’s restructure in 1992.
Swansea celebrated their greatest success to date by winning the Capital One Cup in 2013, with a record-breaking 5-0 victory over Bradford City, claiming the club’s first major trophy and qualifying for the 2013-14 UEFA Europa League. Most recently, Swansea finished the 2015-16 season in 12th place in the Premier League standings with a 12-15-11 record and 47 points.
“They are a team that’s proven themselves to be in an elite league in the world for quite some time now and it’s a great opportunity for guys here to test themselves against that kind of talent,” said Independence defender and team captain Bilal Duckett. “There are games where you kind of measure it and you remember it because of the occasion and there are games kind of like this one that you’re going to remember it because you’re playing against one of the top teams in the world.”
Wednesday’s friendly will feature Swansea City First Team members such as midfielders Leon Britton and Leroy Fer, defenders Angel Rangel,Federico Fernandez and Kyle Naughton, forwards André Ayew, Modou Barrow and Wayne Routledge, as well as goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt.
“To have Swansea City coming in and the level of their play for the local fans to be able to see that and for us to compete against that is huge,” said Independence Head Coach Mike Jeffries. “It’s something that the guys are looking forward to quite a bit and we as a staff are as well. Our whole group is excited because it’s not every day that they will get to compete with a group that’s playing in the Premier League, with guys that are at that level.”
The Independence just kicked off the second half of the 2016 USL season and are currently 7-5-4 (25 points), ranking sixth in the USL Eastern Conference Standings. Charlotte’s offense has been paced by Brian Brown (4g, 3a), Jorge Herrera (4g, 2a), Enzo Martinez (4g, 2a) and Caleb Calvert (4g, 1a), while the stingy backline features Duckett, Henry Kalungi, Joel Johnson and Patrick Slogic. Goalkeepers Cody Mizell andJohn Berner have split time in net.
“To have an English Premier League team over here and for us to have the opportunity to test ourselves against them and see what we’re made of against a top side, it’s exciting,” said Independence midfielder and Liverpool native Jack Metcalf. “The whole club and the whole city is excited about it. We’re just going to go out and have fun. It’s an exhibition match but everybody knows it’s a big team, it’s a big opportunity as a club and individually to show what everybody’s made of and I think that’s what the whole city can get behind is seeing how good we are against a top side.”
This will be the third time Swansea has traveled to America for a preseason tour, having visited Colorado and California in 2012 before returning to Chicago, Milwaukee and Minnesota two years later. Both tours helped prepare the Swans for hugely successful seasons, with the club lifting the Capital One Cup in 2013, while a record-breaking campaign was sealed in 2015.
Swansea will begin their 11-day trip abroad with a week-long training camp in Washington DC, followed by the Independence match on July 13 and a second contest with the Richmond Kickers on July 16.
Swansea’s U.S. preseason tour has been arranged by PSC Ltd, who also arranged the Swans’ two previous tours to the U.S. in 2012 and 2014.