Press Recaps

Head Coach Dean Smith's First Week of Preseason


It's been slightly over a week since Charlotte FC head coach Dean Smith began his inaugural preseason with his new team. Enthusiasm and intensity run high as the blend of experienced and youthful players eagerly work to absorb all the knowledge their manager imparts.

“It's been really pleasing,” started Smith. “So far, the players have been willing and engaging. They've asked questions, they're learning, and they're working extremely hard. The two things that are given for me are always application and attitude, and they've ticked both of them boxes so far. There's certainly things to work with, and work towards as well, but I've been pleased so far.”

A new coach brings fresh opportunities for players—a new perspective for them to impress, adding to the intensity of an already demanding start to preseason.

“Preseason is one of those times when the head coach is liked by everybody because he's not actually picking teams. But as soon as you pick that first team on the 24th of February, then you upset some people who want to start, and I want people to be upset. I want them to be fighting for positions and putting pressure on each other. I think competition is healthy, and I think that's what drives people.”

Even Charlotte’s Designated Players, Enzo Copetti and Karol Swiderski, aren't guaranteed anything.

“Both are goal scorers, but I think their return has to be better than what it was last season, and that’s the pressure I will put on them. But the beauty of it for me is that they're not DPs that I chose, so they have to prove to me that they're valuable to me and to the team. That they can go and perform at the highest level to get their place in the team. From what I've seen from both of them so far is the willingness to do that.”


As Smith and the players learn more about each other on the training ground, they're also discovering facets of each other off the field. Smith shared an amusing early lesson he learned was to speak a bit slower, as he sometimes loses some players due to his accent.

Nevertheless, the team is swiftly grasping Smith’s philosophies and approach to the game, with two specific phrases resonating.

“We're learning about each other all the time; I've got some sayings that they already know. One of them is excuses, or well, planned lies, so don't bother coming up with an excuse – come up with a reason. The other one is... don't make a good chance better. If it's a good chance, it’s good enough.”

While improving fitness is the priority in the initial weeks of preseason, Smith has made enhancing decision-making in the squad the top priority. He emphasizes that the team’s speed of play will be determined by how quickly they can make decisions.

“A lot of the sessions have been about decision making and making lots of decisions; players are making snap decisions every couple of seconds in a game. We need to make them understand what the best decisions for them are to make, without taking away their feel for situations as well away...”

“It's going to come down to their decision making, and it's going to be the key to the speed of it.”

Smith’s expectations for his side in the next month are to, of course, get fitter but to really focus on mastering the basics of the game. Smith places importance on the basics as they form the foundation upon which everything else is built.

“I just want to see daily improvement and weekly improvement on those aspects of the game. If we get that, then it will be hard to play against us.”



It's official. Season Three kicks off on Saturday, February 24 at 7:30PM ET. Get ready for a new beginning for Charlotte FC.