Charlotte, N.C. — The Charlotte Independence, a United Soccer League (USL) professional soccer team, announced signing two rookie midfielders, Jake Areman and Mutaya Mwape, pending league and federation approvals.
Areman comes to the Independence having last played for Monmouth University. In two seasons with the Hawks, the Freehold, New Jersey native scored four goals and nine assists in 36 starts. In the summer of 2017, Areman played for Premier Development League (PDL) side New York Red Bulls U23.
“He's gotten up to the speed of things very quickly,” said Independence Head Coach Mike Jeffries. “He's very a quick player and has some one-on-one capabilities. He can play in a couple different spots; wide midfield on either side or in the back, so he gives us a little flexibility in that regard.”
Areman, like past Independence rookie signings such as Callum Ross, Jaime Siaj, and Lewis Hilton, attended the Independence-Rapids Combine in December. Coach Jeffries says the speedy midfielder was a standout during the two-day workout.
“It was very different because it was only my second [tryout] after college,” said Areman of his combine experience. “You come in with a lot of nerves and there's 50 or 60 people here so try to find a way to stand out. Thankfully I showed pretty well during [the combine], and they gave me another chance to come in over this past couple weeks and I've really enjoyed it.”
Both Areman and Mwape have been on trail with the Independence since the beginning of preseason. Areman scored in the Independence’s first preseason game versus Columbus Crew SC on February 17th. Mwape started both preseason games, thus far.
Last season with the PDL Champion Charlotte Eagles, Mwape appeared in 12 games recording 879 minutes played and two goals. In two seasons at Lindsey Wilson College, the Zambia native scored 25 goals with 19 assists on his way to a 2017 NAIA First Team All-American selection as a sophomore.
“Mutaya is an excellent technical player,” said Jeffries. “He has a dynamic ability to run at defenders and create on his own. He's been pretty exciting in what we've seen over the past couple of weeks. He's got some different ideas in the final third and it's been a good start for him.”
Mwape says he became familiar with the Independence’s attacking style of play after the PDL Championship game last July. Heading into his rookie season, he’s excited about the new challenges of going pro into and is appreciative of the veteran presence helping him along.
“I’m listening to the guys who have been here because they have experience with the club for some time,” said Mwape. “Learning from them and trying to be a player that I'm not and help out the team the best I can.”
The Charlotte Independence, a United Soccer League professional soccer team, will kick off the 2018 season at the Sportsplex at Matthews on Saturday, March 17th when the Independence hosts Ottawa Fury FC. Single-game tickets are now available. For details on the upcoming schedule and Season Memberships visit charlotteindependence.com or call 704-206-1515.