Brian Romero. You probably heard the name by now. The 16-year-old kid who made his first team debut for Charlotte FC against Chelsea and won the game tying pen that eventually led to the win. That kid, he’s from right here in Concord, North Carolina.
He was raised in a Mexican home, in a humble trailer, and his love from the beautiful game stemmed from his dad, William. Brian spent most of his weekends growing up playing in the Hispanic leagues of the Charlotte Soccer Academy, normally against players older than him – a common theme throughout his young career.
As Charlotte FC’s Academy was starting up, Brian Romero was immediately on the radar to bring in for development. From the start, Brian played an age group up with the U-15s when he was a U-14. A shy kid off the pitch and one of the youngest players in the academy, he had a hill to climb and pressure to perform. But once he stepped on the pitch, Brian transformed.
“Immediately when you see him step on the field, he becomes Brian Romero, the player that you saw against Chelsea, he’s not afraid to go out and take players on and express himself as a player” said CLTFC Technical Director Bobby Belair.
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That fearless mentality has helped him thrive playing in older age groups. It doesn’t matter who is in front of him, Romero’s only objective is to get past whoever’s in his way. His ability to glide past players and never back down from a challenge has put him on the map nationally. Brian has earned a regular spot on the U.S. U-17 National Team.
“That’s part of our philosophy - get these players and accelerate their development by playing them up age groups, against older kids, regardless of whether we’re going to win or lose the game....put those kids in an environment where they’re really, really stretched,” Executive Academy Director Bryan Scales had to say about the deliberate strategy in placing players in older age groups.
It was clear that Romero had that special something, but it was his performances with the U-17s in the Generation Adidas Cup where he established that he was ready for the next big step in his development.
“He did fantastic at the GA Cup. I think that was really the moment where we realized okay, this is a talent that is really proving what we thought about him and his potential...,” said Belair. “We flew to Dallas to watch him play for Bryan [Scales] and I to make a decision on when we wanted to move on signing him and it was clear during the playoff showcase that Brian was a talent that was deserving to be signed on pro player.”
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Being the first homegrown player for Charlotte FC is an incredible moment for Romero and his family who have sacrificed a lot to make dreams a reality. It’s a historic moment for the Club and a milestone in the progression of the Academy. However, perhaps the greatest impact of this moment, is that Brian’s story will serve as a beacon to other kids in the Carolinas that going pro is a real possibility and there is a clear path to get there with Charlotte FC.
“I do think that it sends a message across the region that that next 13, 14, 15-year-old kid out there, that knows Brian Romero, has seen him play, may have played against him in a league... that the opportunity to follow and reach your dreams is there,” said Scales. “For our academy this is a big moment.”