One of Charlotte FC’s earliest hired staff members will depart the Major League Soccer expansion club before the start of the team’s inaugural season. Two sources with knowledge of the move confirmed to The Observer on Thursday that technical director Marc Nicholls is leaving the organization for a similar position at Columbus Crew.
Nicholls was announced as Charlotte FC’s technical director in January 2020 after serving in a prior role as director of player development with the Seattle Sounders. His background also includes previous coaching stints in North Carolina with the North Carolina Fusion, a U-23 program, as well as technical leadership roles with Greensboro United and the Winston Salem Twins.
Charlotte FC club declined to comment on his departure.
Nicholls’ responsibilities at Charlotte included constructing the expansion team’s youth academy, establishing partnerships with other soccer organizations, confirming the team’s coaching methods and helping lay pathways for young players to make the senior roster, his hiring announcement said.
At Columbus, Nicholls’ focus on developing young players and first-team pathways will be similar. According to The Columbus Dispatch, Nicholls new role includes “focusing on the development of players along the pathway from the club’s academy to MLS, as well the development of coaches.”
A formal announcement is expected Friday.
Charlotte FC’s Academy rosters were the first filled by the soccer club. Charlotte FC has full-time U14, U15 and U17 Academy teams that train four nights a week, in addition to morning sessions. The teams play on the weekends in the MLS Next tournament format.
Charlotte FC coach Miguel Ángel Ramírez said Monday that there still was a large gap between the club’s Academy team talent and that of first-team players. Ramírez explained that was the reasoning behind the club adding four goalkeepers to its roster, rather than keeping three, since the Academy players were not quite ready for the first-team jump on short notice as the programs develop.
Charlotte FC’s first match of the season is Feb. 26 against D.C. United in Washington, D.C. Its home opener at Bank of America Stadium is March 5 against the Los Angeles Galaxy.