Dean Smith

Charlotte FC Homegrown Nimfasha Berchimas Makes History at Just 16 Years Old

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From ball boy to stepping on the pitch for Charlotte FC in front of over 62,000 fans, Nimfasha Berchimas has seen an incredible rise from his early days in the CLTFC Academy. The 16-year-old made history when Head Coach Dean Smith gave him his debut late in the team's 1-0 win over New York City FC in the 2024 MLS season opener.

Berchimas not only became the first CLTFC Academy player to make an MLS appearance, he was also the 9th youngest player in MLS history to make his MLS debut. This topped what has been a quite literal life changing six moths for Berchimas which has included setting other records such as being the youngest player to make a U-17 World CUP USYNT roster.

“It feels really great,” said a relaxed Berchimas following the match. “To finally accomplish what I wanted for a long time, so I’m just really happy to have been on the field.”

During preseason, Dean Smith proved he was willing to play the youngsters when Berchimas started in their second match against San Jose Earthquakes in the Coachella Invitational. He continued to prove his belief in the young players when he gave not only Berchimas his MLS debut but also two other youngters, Iuri Tavares and João Pedro.

"If they're ready, it doesn't matter what age they are," Smith said. "If the young lads are ready, then I'll give them the opportunity. They're ready at the moment."