Charlotte, N.C. — On Thursday, the Charlotte Independence, a United Soccer League (USL) professional soccer team, received forward Caleb Calvert, midfielder Ricardo Perez, defender Sam Vines, and goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra on loan from Major League Soccer (MLS) affiliate Colorado Rapids. Per the terms of the affiliation agreement, the Colorado Rapids reserve the right to recall loaned players.
Calvert returns to the Independence for his fourth loan stint in as many years with the club. The 21-year-old has amassed nine goals in 47 appearances in his time with the Independence. Calvert is a native of Wrightwood, California and signed to Chivas USA as a homegrown player in 2013.
Perez, 22, joins the Independence as a Rapids homegrown player. During the 2017 season, Perez scored in his professional debut on loan to the Colorado Springs Switchbacks (USL). In his four-year, collegiate career at Creighton University, Perez scored 15 goals with nine assists in 88 games. He earned 2016 Big East Midfielder of the Year and was select to the Big East First-Team as a senior.
Vines spent time with the Independence as a Rapids Academy player last season. The Rapids signed the 18-year-old to a homegrown contract this past February. In 2017, Vines was named Colorado Rapids Academy Player of the Year. Since 2013, the Colorado Springs, Colorado native has made 63 appearances for Rapids Development Academy teams and has 23 call-ups to the US Youth National Team.
Dykstra, 32, comes to the Independence with extensive MLS and USL experience. As a rookie, he signed with the Chicago Fire (MLS), where he spent two seasons. In 2011, Dykstra posted a 0.846 goals against average as a member of the Charleston Battery (USL). The subsequent year, he signed with DC United (MLS) where he spent five seasons, including loan stints to Charleston Battery and Richmond Kickers (USL). Ahead of the 2017 season, Dykstra was selected by Sporting Kansas City (MLS) in the MLS Re-Entry Draft. The Rapids acquired Dykstra this past February via trade.
Last December, the Independence and Rapids renewed their affiliation for a fourth season. The two organizations have exchanged numerous player, including recent Rapids signing and former Independence USL MVP Finalist, Enzo Martinez.
“The relationship has given us some guys who have contributed to the roster,” said Independence Head Coach Mike Jeffries. “It's certainly got us players like Caleb [Calvert], Marlon [Hairston], [Dominique] Badji, who have come in and done well with us and fit in back in Colorado with success. It's been huge for us and I expect that will continue.”
Not unlike the message conveyed to all players who wear an Independence uniform, Head Coach Mike Jeffries makes it clear that development and playing time is a product of an individual’s daily grind.
“It's important for young players to come into an environment where they have to compete and have to earn a spot,” said Jeffries. “Nothing is handed to them in any way, shape, or form. I think we pride ourselves in being that type of environment where it doesn't matter where you're coming from. It's about what you do and how you perform day-in and day-out. That's what makes the decision if you play or not. I think our relationship with Colorado is such that they agree and buy into that. It's a good situation and long-term, developmentally, it is important for those guys to earn their time on the field and to have to fight and compete, every day.”
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.