Charlotte FC’s inaugural head coach is out

Charlotte FC’s inaugural head coach is out

Charlotte FC midfielder Alan Franco (left) and head coach Miguel Ángel Ramírez celebrate after the club's first win in franchise history. Photo: Andy Weber/Axios

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Charlotte Football Club head coach Miguel Ángel Ramírez is out less than a year after taking the role and halfway through the team’s first season.

What’s happening: Ramírez was told by sporting director Zoran Krneta and president Joe LaBue “he will not continue as the head coach of Charlotte FC,” per a club statement.

  • “At the end of the day, we had no choice, and we had to do it,” Krneta said of firing Ramírez during a press conference. 
  • Krneta declined to share details about why Ramírez was fired, but he did say there wasn’t a disconnect between the front office and Ramírez. “Miguel and I had a very good working relationship,” he said. 
  • Krneta also added “players have nothing to do with this decision.”

State of play: Charlotte FC named assistant coach Christian Lattanzio interim head coach for the rest of the season. Three more coaches also left the team with Ramírez.

  • Coaches leaving include assistant coach Mikel Antía, head fitness coach Cristobal Fuentes Nieto and first team video analyst Luis Piedrahita.
  • Goalkeeper coach Andy Quy remains with the team.

Background: This was Ramírez’s first MLS coaching gig and his first position in the U.S.

  • Tepper Sports and Entertainment owner David Tepper said hiring the inaugural head coach was a yearlong process when they announced Ramírez last July. Tepper said he was sold on Ramírez as soon as he finished their Zoom interview. 
  • Krneta said Ramírez was among 30 candidates they interviewed, and they looked for 10 characteristics, three of which were more important than others. He didn’t say what those were, only that Ramírez had them. 
  • Yes, but: This wasn’t the first time Ramírez was sacked quickly. He had a three-month stint Sport Club Internacional in Brazil and was fired after being knocked out of the Copa do Brasil by lower tier side Vitória.

Why it matters: Ramírez is the latest in a wave of exits on Mint Street. Tepper Sports and Entertainment CEO Nick Kelly chose to step down his newly appointed position earlier this month after previously serving as Charlotte FC’s inaugural president.

  • But he’s not the only departure. Academy manager Dan Lock is departing the club after more than two years for a position with Columbus Crew’s academy, per sources.

What they’re saying: “This is a difficult decision, but one we feel is best for the team at this time,” Tepper said in a statement. “I want to thank Miguel and his staff for their hard work during our first season and wish them the best in their future endeavors.”

Zoom out: Across Uptown at Spectrum Center, James Borrego was out after a winning season with the Hornets, but failing to take them to the playoffs during his time there.

  • Meanwhile, Matt Rhule remains safe, for now, as the Carolina Panthers head coach, despite failing to take the team to the playoffs or produce a winning season during his two seasons with the franchise. They went 5-11 and 5-12 in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
  • Charlotte FC, by comparison, sits eighth in the Eastern Conference at 5-8-1 with 16 points with more than half the regular season left to be played.

The intrigue: Ramírez wasn’t fired because the team was performing poorly, especially for an expansion franchise, and he was hardly despised by fans. They loved him. 

  • “This decision has nothing to do with the fans,” Krneta said. “This decision has to do with making this club bigger and better and more effective. This is something every fan would want us to do anyway.” 
The bottom line: May was a messy month on Mint Street, but so was April when the Panthers canceled their contract with Rock Hill for the team’s new $800 million headquarters and practice facility.
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