North Carolina FC has acquired defender Paco Craig, who has earned Championship All-League honors five times previously in his career. | Photo courtesy Trevor Ruszkowski / Indy Eleven
CARY, N.C. – North Carolina FC announced on Friday it had acquired center back Paco Craig via transfer from fellow USL Championship club Miami FC and signed him to a two-year contract through the 2025 season. The transaction is pending league and federation approval.
Craig has been one of the standout defensive players in the USL Championship since his arrival in the league with Louisville City FC in 2016. On three occasions he has been voted to the Championship All-League Team, while twice earning Second Team honors, and he helped LouCity claim league titles in the 2017 and 2018 campaigns.
“We are pleased to welcome Paco to the club,” said NCFC Head Coach and Sporting Director John Bradford. “He is a proven winner in this league and well respected across the USL Championship and beyond. We’re excited for his experience and tenacity to bolster our back line.”
“I am very excited to get started at North Carolina FC,” said Craig. “Playing against them over the years I was very impressed by the professionalism of the organization. Now, I'm looking forward to contributing any way I can in helping them achieve their goals of success.”
Craig has made 203 appearances in the Championship’s regular season, recording 17,551 minutes of action. Since the start of the 2017 campaign, he has recorded a tackle success rate of 66.2 percent, and a duel success rate of 63.5 percent, while recording 841 clearances, 311 interceptions and 1,127 recoveries.
North Carolina FC’s acquisition of Paco Craig gives the side a defensive centerpiece to build its lineup around in a similar fashion to its signing of Rodrigo da Costa on Thursday adds a high-level attacking piece for the club’s return to the Championship. Craig has been one of the most respected and consistent center backs in the Championship and with more than 200 regular season appearances under his belt – say nothing of his numerous playoff appearances for Louisville City FC – he will bring outstanding experience to the club.
While 2023 might at first glance have appeared to be a down year for the veteran due to Miami FC’s absence from the postseason, Craig’s individual performance remained at a high level by most metrics. The 31-year-old recorded 143 clearances, 37 interceptions and 198 recoveries while posting a tackle success rate of 63.6 percent and duel success rate of 65.4 percent, which saw him rank third among center backs with a +6.63 Goals Added mark according to American Soccer Analysis, trailing only All-League First Team selections Conor Donovan and Arturo Ordóñez.