Star Center Back and Trades Headline Charlotte FC's Expansion Draft

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The picks are in.

Charlotte FC have officially chosen their five draft picks. Three of them will stay at the Club, while the other two will be traded to other teams.

Let’s dive into who the Club selected and the reasonings behind them.

Pick #1: McKinze Gaines (Austin FC) (Winger)

23-year-old Gaines has recently returned to the United States after spending the six years prior to his time at Austin in the German soccer system.

He’s a dynamic forward who is aggressive and likes to take defenders on. With his quick feet and blistering speed, he’s a menace for opponents to defend in 1 v 1 situations.

Not only is he aggressive with the ball, but without it he likes to make runs in behind to disrupt the defense. But Gaines is more than just speed; he also has a solid technical foundation, capable of dribbling in tight spaces and providing accurate crosses.

While his favored position is right-winger, he is versatile enough to be able to play across the front three attacking positions.

Pick #2: Anton Walkes (Atlanta United) (Center Back)

Walkes is a 6’2” center back that is coming off the best season of his career. He had a breakout season in 2020 but really stepped it up another notch 2021.

Playing 33 out of the 34 regular season games for the club, Walkes has been a cornerstone for Atlanta. In an up-and-down season for the team down I-85, he was one of the most consistent performers throughout the year.

Walkes is mobile, possesses good recovery speed, and is a strong, no-nonsense 1 v 1 defender, all traits that are important in playing in an aggressive, high defensive line.

In possession, he’s comfortable and secure on the ball with both his feet, so he’s capable of slotting in as either a right or left-sided center back.

Additionally, Walkes played as a right back in 2017 during his first loan spell with Atlanta, so his versatility will be an asset over the course of the season.

Pick #3: Joseph Mora (DC United) (Left-Back)

The Costa Rican, Mora, will be bringing plenty of MLS experience to the left flank of Charlotte FC. He’s amassed 97 MLS appearances, averaging 20 or more appearances in each of his four seasons in the league.

Solid defense, good crossing, and ability to get forward involving himself in the attack are all qualities that Mora will bring to Charlotte FC.

Even though he’s Costa Rican with four senior caps for his national team, Mora won’t take up an international slot because he began counting as a domestic player back in 2019.


Pick #4: Tristan Blackmon (LAFC) (Center Back)

Blackmon is a versatile defender that can play as the right-sided center back or right back.

Charlotte FC traded him to the Vancouver Whitecaps in exchange for $350,000 General Allocation Money (GAM) for the 2022 season, with an additional $125,000 GAM in 2023.

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Pick #5: Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (New York City FC) (Winger)

Tajouri-Shradi is predominantly a right winger but can play on the opposite side, as well as through the middle as an attacking midfielder.

Charlotte FC traded him to Los Angeles FC in exchange for $400,000 GAM.


Charlotte FC’s roster is now at 14 players with two and half months to go until the start of their inaugural season. With the Expansion Draft picks, Charlotte FC has just about completed the spine of the team and the search for the remaining attacking options will now likely take priority.

With the extra record amount of $875,000 GAM acquired through the trades, Charlotte FC are in an advantageous position with the additional allocation money providing flexibility for any new signings.

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