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Charlotte FC Head Coach Miguel Ramírez and Alan Franco are reuniting at Charlotte FC.

The 23-year-old midfielder is returning to play under the coach where he won the 2019 Copa Sudamericana at Independiente Del Valle in Ecuador.

Franco played a key role for Ramírez in that historic season at Independiente. He’s a player that Ramírez is very familiar with and that knows the system the head coach wants to play.

Franco has also been a staple player for the Ecuadorian National Team in this World Cup Qualifying cycle. He is a product of the recent Ecuadorian youth talent boom along with his Charlotte FC teammate, Jordy Alcívar.

Defensive Intuitiveness

Naturally, Franco plays as a number eight (a midfielder who has both attacking and defending responsibilities), but he also has the capability to play as a defensive midfielder.

As far as box-to-box midfielders go, he tends to lean more towards the defensive side of game. However, that isn’t to say that he doesn’t provide anything in attack.

In possession, he protects the ball and rarely gives it up needlessly. He’s also intelligent in his positioning and recognizes when he needs to join in the attack or stay back on defense.

This has led to occasional goals and assists, but where the Ecuadorian really shines is in defense. Franco has great intuition and awareness of the gaps that open up throughout a game.

“He’s like the cement in the midfield,” Director of Scouting Thomas Schaling described. “He makes sures there aren’t too many holes on the field.”

An example of this concept is if a right-back pushes up into the attack, a gap will open on the right flank. Players like Franco, who have good awareness, will recognize this gap opening and will shift over to cover it.

Having the awareness to recognize where these gaps are opening and covering them prevents the team from being caught out on counter-attacking, potential goal-scoring opportunities.

Combative

Franco is a hard-nosed player that goes in strong into challenges and isn’t afraid of being physical. He’s a competitor that doesn’t like to give an inch.

"He’s very strong, determined and combative once he can challenge for the ball," said Schaling.

His will to compete along with being physically capable with “good legs” makes Franco a nuisance to opposing players and an asset to his team.

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Franco will be joining an already strong midfield group at Charlotte FC that so far includes: Sergio Ruiz, Riley McGree, Jordy Alcívar, and Brandt Bronico. He brings a unique skillset that will complement the others and give Ramírez increased flexibility in the middle of the pitch.