Charlotte FC’s scouting department had the enormous responsibility of scouring the world for thirty players to make up the inaugural roster of MLS’s newest expansion club starting back in 2019. A task that only a handful of scouting departments have had to undertake. Looking back on the season, CLTFC Director of Scouting Thomas Schaling is proud of what his team accomplished despite the bumps along the way.
“We are proud of the way we built a competitive team for our inaugural season and the many highlights that we experienced with our fans. That being said, anyone that tells you they didn't learn anything from assembling a completely new team and staff in a new league is not being very truthful.”
A scouting department not only serves to discover players but more importantly serves as a filter of the massive pool of players available worldwide. They have to sort through all the noise and narrow down what seems to be an endless amount of players to just four or five options that fit stylistically and financially. It’s being quicker at this process that Schaling believes his team has improved on the most.
"We can't sit around and just sit on the fence about players, we need to narrow it down. I think narrowing it down quicker is something that we're doing better now than we did two years ago. Or maybe even a year ago.”
A perfect example of narrowing targets quick enough to act on them were the summer additions of Nuno Santos, Adilson Malanda, and Nathan Byrne. All three of them made immediate impacts and helped boost the team in a late playoff push without “mortgaging” Charlotte’s roster flexibility and future in Schaling’s words.
The Club is officially entering its first off-season but preparations for it started long before for the scouting department. The summer signings were the first step in rounding out the roster for year two but now the team will hyperfocus on a select few positions to continue improving the roster for the 2023 season.
“I think in a way, you could say it's easier in general because there are fewer players to bring in but it's also even more specific in that we've identified these 3, 4, 5 positions/roles on the roster that we really want to improve on. We need these guys to be not 10% better, but rather want them to be 30-40% better. Having everyone at the club working together and thinking similarly about what we need makes that goal a lot more achievable. We are very well aligned.”
The scouting department’s recruitment efforts will be enhanced by the addition of a fully dedicated analytics department that is currently in the works. While data has always been an important part of the decision-making process for the team, it will be further optimized with a full-time team headed by Lisandro Isei who has been at the Club since its inception.
"We look forward to taking the next step as we further professionalize and streamline our processes with the new analytics department, led by Lisandro. This will surely strengthen the scouting department and improve our recruitment efforts even more."
With the lessons learned from the inaugural season and the new analytics department, Schaling believes the Club as a whole is primed to make a jump in year two and is excited for what is to come for the scouting department and the Club as a whole.
“There have been lessons learned from a recruitment process standpoint that the entire front office will carry into year two. Given the important role that the scouting department will play, I can say that I am very proud about how this team has developed and confident about where it stands. In my experience, I can truly say that the level of this group is very high. Ben Green, Davor Brasanac, Lisandro Isei, Ryan Johnson and Vincent van Raam are excellent and talented professionals that will help move this club forward.