It's been an eventful couple of weeks since the last time we chatted... the Club learned some valuable lessons in their loss against the Philadelphia Union and followed it up with a massive win against Atlanta United heading into their 3 away game stretch.

In this edition of Mailbag I'm going to be doing a highly requested roster breakdown which will hopefully bring some clarity surrounding our roster slots, Designated Players, and U22 Initiative players. As well as who's been the most influential player in the midfield? Do we play starters in U.S. Open Cup? And is Christian Fuchs ever going to slow down?

Let's get right into it.

Could you do a roster breakdown? Not something too complicated, but something that analyzes our roster in light of the rules. How many DPs, do we have? What's the difference between a DP and a YDP and a U22 Initiative and a Generation adidas player? Do players signed by Charlotte FC, but loaned to other teams count against the 30 player roster limit? - Greg, Charlotte, NC

Oof, this is a loaded question, but I will try my best to make it as clear and concise as possible.

As you mentioned, teams are only allowed a total of 30 players on their roster. However, that 30 is split into the senior roster (20 slots) and the supplemental roster (10 slots). Players under the senior roster counter towards a team’s salary budget while players under the supplemental roster don’t.

Charlotte FC currently has 28 slots filled: 19 Senior Roster and 9 Supplemental (players on loan don’t count towards the total roster cap)

As for the difference between a Young Designated Player and Designated player. A YDP is 23 years old or younger during the league year and their salary budget charge is less compared to the $612,500 for a DP:

  • Ages 20 and younger: $150,000
  • Ages 21-23: $200,000

Another advantage of a YDP apart from the lower salary budget charge is that if a club has at least one YDP on their roster it will unlock all three U22 Initiative Slots compared to just the one U22 slot you get if you have all standard DPs who are 24 and older and are above Maximum Targeted Allocation Money Amount ($1,612,500).

Players occupying a U22 Initiative Slot will have a salary budget charge that is identical to that of YDPs.

Jordy Alcívar is considered a YDP so that has allowed the Club to have all three U22 slots available to them. While Jóźwiak is currently 23 years old who can’t be classified as a YDP because he turns 24 during the season.

Designated Players

Karol Świderski (DP)

Kamil Jóźwiak (DP)

Jordy Alcívar (YDP)

U22 Initiative Players

Vinicius Mello

However, DPs can be bought down using General Allocation Money so there is a chance that Alcívar could be bought down to free up a DP slot in the future.

Hope this helped!

Which of the following three aspects of our midfield do you think has been the most influential to our team?

1. Bronico's defensive awareness
2. Alcivar's creativity in attack
3. Franco's tenacious work ethic – Brian, Greensboro, NC

Good observations Brian, these are attributes each of these players has brought on the pitch, but it would be impossible to pick one as the most influential.

The strengths of each of these players are all different but necessary in order to have a balanced midfield. None is more important than the others because they all work in unison.

Alcívar wouldn’t have the ability to get forward to use his creativity if he didn’t have a player like Franco who can cover for him. Franco wouldn’t be able to chase down balls and apply pressure if he didn’t have a disciplined player like Bronico who covers the back four in case Franco gets beat. Bronico can’t cover every opposing player, so he needs guys like Alcívar and Franco who are willing to get back to help defensively.

If every player had the same skillset, it would create an unbalanced and disaster of a midfield. Each of these players enables the others to do what they do best.

But seriously… Can Fuchs go 90 minutes all season long? If not, who steps in to fill his role? - Blue Crown Soccer, Charlotte, NC

Despite Fuchs recently turning 36 years old, he hasn’t shown any sign of slowing down. It’s a testament to his discipline, soccer IQ, and how he takes care of his body. But it’s a long MLS season...

If he was being consistently played at left back I would have said that there is no way he can go for 90 minutes all season long. But it seems like Miguel Ramírez has opted to play and keep playing him as the left center back, which is less physically demanding compared to playing fullback.

But knowing how competitive Fuchs is, I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts for the rest of the season. In the case that he doesn’t, Charlotte FC are fortunate to have two other left footed center backs ready to step up, Christian Makoun and Jan Sobociński. Even Anton Walkes, who has an underrated left foot, can fill in if needed.

But between the left-footers of Christian Makoun and Jan Sobociński, believe that the next man up would be Makoun based on previous selections. Don’t count Sobociński out though, Ramírez has praised him on several occasions for how well he trains.

Center back is not a position lacking depth for CLTFC, Ramírez is spoiled for choices in case he ever wants or needs to rotate. This will become especially important with the start of US Open Cup.

Do MLS teams typically play their best in their 1st game in the US Open Cup when it's against lower-level teams? – Sean, Charlotte, NC

The answer to this is on a team-by-team basis. In general, MLS teams have rotated for the earlier rounds but depending on a team’s position in the MLS table or their next league opponent could affect this.

For example, if you’re a team near the top of the table and you feel that you have a good chance of staying at the top, most teams wouldn’t put that at risk for U.S. Open Cup. But if your team is sitting near the bottom and you don’t expect to make playoffs or a deep run in MLS Cup you could opt to go all-in on US Open Cup for a better chance at a trophy.

Or if your team plays a rotated side all Open Cup but makes it to the semifinals, at this stage you’ve made it this far, so why not go all outplay your best 11 to win it all?

Variables like these determine how Open Cup is prioritized. As for Charlotte FC, the Club has full intention of taking the tournament seriously and trying to go as far as they can.

The way this could look like for balancing both league and Open Cup play is rotating a few players rather than having two different line-ups for each competition. That’s how I personally think Ramírez will go about it based on how he’s handled similar situations at his previous clubs.

That wraps up the third edition of Mailbag, if I missed your question, it could be featured in the next edition, so there is still hope! Make sure to submit any questions you may have for next time here.

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