Charlotte Independence Signs Ukrainian Player To Squad

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The only Ukrainian born professional soccer player in the United States is now suiting up for the Charlotte Independence.

The 22 year old forward signed with the team just days ago after he fled the country following the Russian invasion. Illia Shevtsov left behind his family in hopes of supporting them and following his dreams.

“I think for me it’s the best of course,” said Shevtsov speaking about his home country.

Shevtsov says he loves his homeland.. the beaches, food, ancient history and soccer.

“You can perform and play in Europa League or Champions League move to a good team and do a good championship,” he explained.

Prior to coming to America just last week, Shevtsov played professionally in the top Ukrainian league. Their season was canceled following the Russian invasion. Their stadium recently bombed.

“I hope when things get better, I think I will come back. Maybe in 10 years or 15 or 5 I don’t know. But I hope to,” said Shevtsov.

His parents are stuck in a Russian occupied area of Ukraine.

“It’s so tough you know because my family is still in Ukraine. So it’s very difficult to connect them. And it’s so hard to leave your country,” he explained.

But he’s remaining focused on his chance to continue playing, support his family, and prepare for the future.

“You need to be on positive vibes you know,” said Shevtsov, “It’s also great experience to move to another county and meet new people. Play in another league, not Ukraine. It’s also good I think.”

He’s doing what he can to enjoy the experience.

“I’ve never saw high buildings like this. Never saw it,” he said with a smile.

And using soccer as his escape.

“When your life change, it’s good. It’s new challenge for you,” said Shevtsov.

Shevtsov signed a contract through November with the independence. He says he’s taking everything day by day and will see how long he stays with the team and in America.