Charlotte, N.C. — The Charlotte Independence added another significant piece to the 2018 roster on Monday, signing former New England Revolution (Major League Soccer) and UNC-Charlotte defender Donnie Smith, pending league and federation approval.
Last season, Smith spent 12 games with the Independence on loan from New England during the USL regular season. The left back totaled nine starts with two assists and 13 crosses. He played a key role for the Independence’s defense, contributing to a 1.10 goals against average (GAA) in games he played, compared to the team’s 1.35 GAA in USL competitions without Smith.
Charlotte Independence defender, Donnie Smith clears a headed shot off the goal line in a critical game versus first place, Louisville City FC on Augusts 6th, 2017.
“I really enjoyed playing with Head Coach Mike Jeffries last year in the ten games on loan,” said Smith. “Also, I really enjoyed the group of guys I was able to play with. It's an attacking style of play and I really enjoyed it.”
“We were fortunate to get to know Donnie last year and he contributed greatly to the success of our team as a loan player,” said Independence Head Coach Mike Jeffries. “His ability to both defend and get forward as a left back is vital in how we play. He is an excellent passer with good timing on his runs forward and a physical defensive presence.”
Jeffries acknowledged the significance of signing a player with strong local ties. Smith is a Charlotte Soccer Academy alumni and Matthews, North Carolina native who contributed to UNC-Charlotte men’s soccer 2011 NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer runner-up team. As a four-year player for the 49ers, the three-time Atlantic-10 All-Conference selection appeared in 82 games with 18 goals and 10 assists.
“Growing up, I went to [Charlotte] Eagles games back in the day,” said Smith. “I didn't expect to be playing professionally in a soccer specific stadium [in Matthews], so it's really cool to be able to come back and be able to play where my roots are.”
Additionally, Smith helped the Carolina Dynamo (Premier Development League) win back-to-back South Atlantic Division Championships. In the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, Smith was selected 21st overall by New England Revolution where he spent five seasons.
With the addition of Smith, the Independence’s roster now sits at five players under contract including Jorge Herrera, the USL’s second All-Time leading goal scorer, who signed last week. The Independence will kickoff the 2018 season at the Sportsplex at Matthews on Saturday, March 17th versus Ottawa Fury FC. 2018 Season Memberships are available online and by calling 704-206-1515. The league is expected to release the full 2018 season schedule later this week.