Charlotte (NC) — On Friday, the Charlotte Independence professional soccer team announced two club management changes in Jim McGuinness’ appointment as the team’s Head Coach and Mike Jeffries’ promotion from Head Coach to General Manager. These initial changes are designed to move the club to the next level in an increasingly competitive USL Championship division.
“These changes are about building the club upward”, said Independence Managing Partner Jim McPhilliamy. “With our stadium deal now in place at American Legion Memorial Stadium, our ownership group felt it was the right time to invest in new coaching talent and build for the future. We’re able to retain the institutional soccer knowledge Mike Jeffries has accumulated over his lifetime in soccer, while bringing in a new perspective and coaching talent in Jim McGuinness. The combination will position the Independence as one of the strongest competitive teams in USL Championship for years to come.”
McGuinness, 46, brings coaching experience from Derry City FC, iconic Scotland Premiership powerhouse side Celtic FC, and most recently, as an assistant coach for Chinese Super League side Beijing Sinobo Guoan Football Club under current Head Coach Roger Schmidt — the former Head Coach of German Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen. McGuinness holds a UEFA Class A Coaching License.
“I am very excited about the prospect of taking up the head coach role at the Charlotte Independence and am both proud and grateful to the club for having put its faith in me,” said Independence Head Coach Jim McGuinness. “I knew from early on in our discussions that the club and I shared a vision for what we want to achieve and now it’s about everybody involved working hard to make that happen.”
McGuinness’ unique approach to coaching has yielded team performance improvements at every stop. In his last job, Beijing improved from ninth in 2017 to fourth in 2018, also winning a record-tying fifth Chinese FA Cup Championship. Prior to his move to soccer, McGuinness had a storied career as a Gaelic Football player and manager for Donegal leading the club to their first All-Ireland Senior Football Championship in 20 years.
“I have learned a great deal already about the USL and firmly believe we can be really competitive in the USL Championship in 2019,” said Independence Head Coach Jim McGuinness. “It’s an exciting time for the game in the United States which is growing all the time and I believe the Charlotte Independence will have a major influence in the years to come.”
As a prominent sportsman in Ireland, the Irish community in Charlotte is delighted to have such a prominent national figure join the local professional soccer team.
“I wish to Congratulate Charlotte Independence on securing Jim McGuinness as its head coach,” said Ireland’s Consul General for the Southeast U.S. Shane Stephens. “Given McGuinness’ past success in Ireland, and internationally, it looks like they have bet on a winner.”
Mike Jeffries takes on a new role within the club transitioning to General Manager with more than 40 years of coaching and playing experience, which includes winning the Hermann Trophy with Duke University, multiple caps for the U.S. Men’s National Team, a MLS Cup Championship, a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title, and scouting for Bob Bradley’s U.S. Men’s National Team during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. From 2016-17, he led the Independence to consecutive playoff appearances.
Helping his new head coach build a young and talented roster which can compete for USL Championships titles, Jeffries will continue to guide the team to further success in the years to come.
“I look forward to working with Jim McGuinness in continuing to build the franchise to reach our goals of winning trophies”, said Independence General Manager Mike Jeffries. “I believe in what we have built in Charlotte with our style of play, as well as our ability to compete and succeed. I am confident Jim will be able to build upon that platform. I am excited about the opportunity to build the Independence brand and team over the coming years as the General Manager.”
The Independence’s current General Manager Tom Engstrom will be staying with the club as the senior advisor to Managing Partner and President Jim McPhilliamy.
“We will continue to rely on Tom’s experience to move our team forward, especially on player identification and development,” said McPhilliamy.
The Charlotte Independence will introduce the club’s new Head Coach Jim McGuinness and General Manager Mike Jeffries during a news conference at Jack’s House Soccer Bar and Retail Store on December 11 at 11am.
The Independence will return to USL Championship action next spring at the Sportsplex at Matthews. For more information on 2019 Season Memberships, please click here or call the Independence front office at 704-206-1515.