Independence SC Midfielder Blake Pope Makes Historic Debut With Charlotte Independence
CHARLOTTE (May 3, 2021) – Blake Pope made Independence Soccer Club history on Saturday evening, becoming the first Independence SC Academy player to play for the Charlotte Independence (USL Championship) in an official game.
The 18-year-old midfielder, who on Thursday became the first member of the 2021 Independence roster to sign an academy contract, made his debut as a substitute in the 78th minute of the Independence’s USL Championship contest against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Pope entered with the Jacks down 2-0, with the final score eventually finishing 3-0.
Launched in 2019, Independence Soccer Club’s affiliation with the Charlotte Independence provides players a clear pathway to the highest level of professional soccer. Pope currently plays for Independence Soccer Club’s U19 Pro Academy and will be joining the Charlotte 49ers men's soccer program to continue his soccer career as a student-athlete.
Jeff Bilyk, Boys Academy Director at Charlotte Independence Soccer Club, said: "This is a proud moment for our players, staff, and club. Our Academy and club philosophy emphasizes individual player development first, and this shows that our professional pathway can be attainable for players at our club."
ABOUT CHARLOTTE INDEPENDENCE SOCCER CLUB: In April 2019, the Charlotte Independence announced a historic formation of the Charlotte Independence Soccer Club (Independence SC). Independence Soccer Club is one of the top-10 largest, youth-to-professional clubs in the United States with a player network of close to 12,000 members, formed from existing youth soccer clubs of Carolina Rapids Soccer Club, Discoveries Soccer Club, and Lake Norman Soccer Club. Together, Independence Soccer Club is positioned to build a better club in serving the surrounding Charlotte-area soccer communities.
Independence Soccer Club is a comprehensive soccer club with playing levels for boys and girls ranging from recreation levels, ECNL, NPL, USL (United Soccer League) Academy, USL League Two, to the USL Championship. The creation of Independence Soccer from Carolina Rapids Soccer Club, Discoveries Soccer Club, and Lake Norman Soccer Club allows for pooled resources from all clubs, which effectively elevates player experiences and club programming, increases in coaches development opportunities, and strengthened partnerships with local municipalities and sponsors. The affiliation with the Charlotte Independence professional soccer team provides players a clear pathway to the highest level of professional soccer. The Charlotte Independence currently plays in the United Soccer League Championship at the Sportsplex at Matthews and is focused on building the profile of the club through culture, community and performance as the team moves to a revitalized 10,000-seat American Legion Memorial Stadium in the spring of 2021.
The creation of Independence Soccer Club has allowed for pooled resources from all legacy clubs, which has effectively elevated player experiences, expanded club programming, increased coaching development opportunities, and strengthened partnerships with local municipalities and sponsors. It has also enhanced marketing efforts, increased sponsorship opportunities, and facilitated future infrastructure development in every single community associated with the club.
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