Liel Abada: A Goal-Hungry Winger 


Charlotte FC's new era, marked by the hiring of Dean Smith, brings with it the pursuit of fresh Designated Players. As preparations started for the departure of Karol Świderski and Kamil Jóžwiak, the search for new talent led to the acquisition of the electric Israeli winger, Liel Abada.

The club officially announced the signing of the 22-year-old winger on Thursday, who joins as a Young Designated Player amidst stiff competition from European clubs and other MLS teams eager to secure his signature.

Thomas Schaling, the Director of Scouting for CLTFC, shed light on Abada's decision to choose the Queen City and what fans can anticipate from their new DP.

“I think he sees that we're a very ambitious project,” said Schaling. “We didn't settle for the performances of last year. We want to take a huge step forward with Dean [Smith].

“I think he knows he can become a really important player here. We see Liel as the first true Young Designated Player in our young history as a Club, and that Young DP tag is not something to be taken lightly.”

Long-Term Player Recruitment

Before we jump into what Schaling and the rest of the CLTFC Technical Department see in Abada’s player profile, let’s consider what he had to say about the process of getting the deal over the line.

“Scouting and recruitment is rarely as short-term focused as people think. It’s usually a long-term process, and good relationships are a big help in this global game of ours.”

This long-term view of player recruitment is something the scouting team has emphasized in their big picture process. In the case of CLTFC’s other recent signing, Djibril Diani, having committed relationships that extended beyond a single transfer window was one of the primary factors the Frenchman committed to Charlotte.

“In Liel’s case, we were aware of and monitoring him closely since he broke through in the Israeli league. The timing of transfers is then often decided by many factors, and sometimes there is a gap of many years between discovering a player and signing a player.

“The fact that we have signed Liel now is down to consistency in our processes and due to our good relationship with Celtic. That relationship is something we have Zoran to thank for, and so a lot of credit goes to him. I think we can all be excited and proud of the work that has led to this signing.”

Overall, it’s important to remember that player recruitment often happens over the course of multiple windows, sometimes taking over years before the time is right for a transfer. In Abada’s case, patience paid off for Charlotte FC.

So, what makes the Israeli winger such a coveted prospect worldwide?

Offensive Weapon

Abada boasts a remarkable record as a consistent goal-scorer, setting him apart from many players of his age. Abada averaged 13.67 goals and 8 assists in all competitions in the previous three seasons. Abada brings a profile at the winger position that is unique from anything the team has seen until this point.

“He's a very energetic and direct player who always wants to go to goal,” described Schaling. “How he directs his running off the ball and how he angles himself to dribble is always towards goal or to create immediate danger.”

“He has a variety of good weapons, as he is eager to take a shot, go at and around defenders, and look for a cut back or different type of cross. Liel is keen to score, and so plays with aggression and conviction in the final third.”

Abada can be described more as an inside forward: a winger who finds themselves in pockets of space near and around goal to pounce on scoring opportunities. While still being more than capable of playmaking, where he truly excels is in his off-ball movement. Opposing teams must game plan around him, as all it takes is one defensive lapse for Abada to punish them.

When on the ball, Abada is more selective in choosing the moments to take players on one-on-one. He leverages his good first touch and acceleration to bypass isolated defenders to create scoring opportunities for his team. His versatility extends to using his left foot for both crossing and shooting, further amplifying his threat.

PlayerSigning_LielAbada (1)

Ideal Fit Under Dean Smith

His defensive contribution is also noteworthy, inherited from his time at Celtic, where high pressing was integral. Described as a "hungry" and driven player by Schaling, Abada brings a relentless work ethic to both attacking and defensive phases of the game.

These are all traits that point to a winger well suited to the more direct, transition-based style the Club has adopted under Head Coach Dean Smith.

“He's more of a direct player,” continued Schaling. “He has the ability and drive to run in behind the opposition’s defense without the ball. He's also very industrious. When the ball comes in on crosses, he's very eager to get in front of goal, so he crashes the box a lot, which is something I believe we need.

“We also have a more direct playing style now as well, which I think is a good development for someone coming from the wing that likes to run in behind and always presses defensively. Liel will both add to and benefit from our new playing style.”

Roster Flexibility

Abada fulfills many of the requirements the team has been seeking in a right winger, and his addition also significantly impacts future recruitment possibilities. As he qualifies for a Young Designated Player spot, Charlotte retains the flexibility to add both a Designated Player and an Under-22 slot, allowing for further strengthening of the team, either in the current transfer window or during the summer.

Teams in MLS that have at least one Young Designated Player or do not fill all three DP slots (as opposed to teams with three Senior DPs) unlock all three possible U-22 Initiative slots. Currently, young talents Kerwin Vargas and Nikola Petkovich occupy two of those slots, enabling CLTFC to add another electric young talent in the coming transfer windows.

Overall, Charlotte FC has acquired a dynamic young winger renowned for his goal-scoring abilities with ample potential for further growth. With the team's strong start under Smith's leadership, a signing of Abada's caliber has the potential to propel them to another level in a fiercely competitive Eastern Conference.



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