The Charlotte native feels confident about the mark his new team is about to make on the league
CHARLOTTE—When inclement weather prevented Charlotte FC from traveling to Clemson for the first week of its inaugural training camp, it was a blessing in disguise for Jaylin Lindsey.
The 21-year-old full-back was born and raised in the Queen City, and was inadvertently presented with the opportunity to spend his first week of training with his new hometown MLS team on the hallowed grounds of Bank of America Stadium.
“I was like, ‘Damn, I’m on the pitch and I’m usually in the stands!’” laughs the lifelong Carolina Panthers fan, who played four seasons of Major League Soccer with Sporting Kansas City before sealing a move to Charlotte FC in December 2021.
“It’s a dream come true. That first home game is gonna give me goosebumps—it’s gonna be like a Homecoming.
“I can’t wait to get out there and hear the home fans cheering us.”
Lindsey, who represented the United States Men’s National team at U17 and U20 level, started playing at a young age at local clubs including Charlotte Soccer Academy. In search of the professional pathway that the Carolinas lacked before Charlotte FC’s arrival, the precocious defender joined the Academy program at Sporting Kansas City at 14 years old.
“Growing up, the one thing I wanted was a local professional team to look up to,” says Lindsey. “It’s crazy how much young talent there is in the Carolinas, and with the Academy team and the professional pathway we have now, there will be more opportunities to develop local talent.”
While Lindsey’s father was a proponent of the other kind of football—he played at college in Cincinnati and suited up in the Arena Football League—his mother played NCAA Division I soccer at High Point University and encouraged his move into the beautiful game.
“There was always kind of a battle between football and soccer with my parents, but in the end my mom didn’t want me to get hurt on the football field,” says Lindsey. “My mom is really into soccer and has been a member of the Queen City Outlaws, so she was on cloud nine when it was confirmed that I was coming home!
“It can’t get much better than that for a parent; she’s so happy for me.”
Lindsey, who made 34 appearances for Sporting Kansas City in MLS, likens his playing style to that of English right-back Kyle Walker, citing his pace and attacking prowess.
“I’m a player with a lot of energy,” says Lindsey. “Being an outside back, it’s important for me to have a good engine, and to get involved in the attack, but of course I have a job to do defensively too.”
The 21-year-old boasts a wealth of experience at the top level, but notes that coach Miguel Ángel Ramírez’s philosophy is bringing new facets to his game.
“Miguel has created a fantastic training environment, with a lot of young guys who are hungry and want more,” says Lindsey.
“We’re all so excited because we’re learning new stuff. There are little details that I’m being given that I’ve never thought of, or have never been taught before.
“It’s almost like a kid being given new candy—we’re all excited to go and try these new ideas!
“One thing is for sure: ours is going to be a very unique playing style. Our goal is to be different from any other team in MLS.”
Lindsey speaks positively about the bond that members of the inaugural squad from all walks of life formed during training camp. He notes that he has changed his phone language settings to Spanish, and that his former Kansas teammate Adrian Zendejas is also helping him communicate with new colleagues who speak Spanish as a first language.
His first meal at training camp, he says, was spent discussing American life with Polish natives Jan Sobociński and Karol Świderski—and he has also made the effort to discuss the nuances of MLS with those who are new to the league.
“I’ve had loads of conversations at team dinners about MLS: how certain teams play and sharing details on our first few opponents,” says Lindsey. “Some of the international players have asked about the referees, and stuff like that, too.
“Even though I’m a young guy, it’s important to share the experience I have in the league.”
Charlotte FC is not scheduled to face Sporting Kansas City in regular season play, but Lindsey is savoring the prospect of visiting familiar Western Conference foes such as LAFC and Seattle Sounders in 2022.
He is unfazed at the prospect of facing established and vaunted opposition in either Conference, due to his belief that Charlotte’s new team is set up to hit the ground running.
“I might be biased, but I feel this team will compete,” says Lindsey. “Our playing is going to be different to what many may expect and I don’t think any team should look beyond us.
“We’re a young and hungry team that’s full of energy, and we also have experience to look up to in players like Christian Fuchs, a Premier League champion.
“I truly believe we can make the playoffs this year and then hopefully go on from that. We’re ready to go!”