A little over two years ago, Charlotte FC Sporting Director Zoran Krneta sat down with Ryan Bailey to talk about the Club’s philosophy for building the team. The interview to introduce Krneta to the fans and allow him to share the technical department’s vision for molding the team.
“The aim of the club is to recruit really good players, potentially undervalued players, and potentially at some point be a selling Club,” Zoran said. “The idea is to bring good players who want to be here, want to play for Charlotte, and will make a difference and the result is to win games.”
A focus on ‘building the spine’ was another core part of the team building philosophy that Krneta has stressed from the start.
“We’ll be looking for players that will be building blocks... We will try to build our spine first: central defender, defensive midfielder, attacking midfielder and a striker.”
Charlotte FC are a little less than a month away from the beginning of the season with a now 25-player strong roster. The spine of the team already featured these first few key building blocks, but was missing that high-profile striker, and new Designated Player Karol Swiderski fills that hole.
The Club had always focused on completing the all-important spine first, bringing in talented players who are hungry to win without overpaying. For example, Krneta quickly accumulated five starting-caliber center backs through various mechanisms, including trades (Christian Makoun), the Expansion Draft (Anton Walkes), and free transfers (Christian Fuchs, Guzman Corujo, and Jan Sobocinski). He also focused on building the midfield, with Sergio Ruiz as the Club’s first-ever signing and Ecuadorian duo Jordy Alcivar and Alan Franco following in late 2021.
They’ve even exported a player to the English Championship, Riley McGree, who was acquired early on and impressed enough on loan for Middlesbrough FC to make an offer that Charlotte FC couldn’t refuse. This was a perfect example of finding undervalued talent that can be nurtured and sold for profit, with the earnings reinvested in the Club.
From the very beginning, Krneta and company have had a clear vision of how they were going to go about building the inaugural roster. CLTFC’s latest signing and first-ever Designated Player, Karol Świderski, is a prime example of the Club not wavering from their recruiting philosophy.
Charlotte FC has been adamant that they are signing players based on their ability and how they fit the game model, not on how recognizable their name is. Świderski may not be a household name, but his talent is undeniable, with Serie A and Bundesliga teams previously interested in signing him according to Krneta.
He broke into the Polish National Team just last March and has six goals and one assist in his 14 appearances since then. This makes him the second highest goal scorer for Poland in this World Cup Qualifying campaign, tied with current New England Revolution striker Adam Buksa and behind world class Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski.
But it was Świderski's eagerness to play for Charlotte FC and be a part of the project that Krneta loves the most.
“The most important thing is that he [Świderski] really wants to be here and he really wants to play for us,” Krneta said.
Perhaps the biggest indicator of the value Charlotte FC has found in Świderski: former Polish National Team coach and current Flamengo coach Paulo Souse told Krneta that a move for the striker wouldn’t be possible because of the caliber of player he is.
“It’s just a testament to what we’re trying to do,” Krneta said. “(We’re) trying to bring the best possible players. We don’t take no for an answer and we’re trying to build a roster that we think is a competitive and winning roster.”