CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Charlotte Independence announced on Friday it had appointed Jim McGuinness as the club’s new Head Coach, and that Mike Jeffries had been promoted to become the club’s General Manager as it moved toward the 2019 USL Championship campaign.
These initial changes are designed to move the club to the next level in the increasingly competitive USL Championship as the club begins preparations for its move to Memorial Stadium.
“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 some up-and-coming 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.”
The 46-year-old McGuinness brings coaching experience from Derry City FC, iconic Scotland Premiership powerhouse Celtic FC, and most recently served 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 “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 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,” added 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.”
With a combined 40 years of playing and coaching experience, Jeffries takes on a new role within the club as he becomes General Manager. A former Hermann Trophy-winner at Duke University, as a player Jeffries earned multiple caps for the U.S. Men’s National Team, and won both MLS Cup and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as a coach. He also served as a scout for the U.S. Men’s National Team during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Jeffries led the Independence to consecutive playoff appearances in the 2016 and 2017 seasons, and posted a record of 47-38-39 over the past four regular seasons and a +21 goal differential. Helping McGuinness build a young and talented roster which can compete for the USL Cup, 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 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 former 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.