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Charlotte FC Players Share Their Opinions on the City

Charlotte FC defender Guzmán Corujo in mid-kick
Charlotte FC defender Guzmán Corujo. (Photo by Taylor Banner/Charlotte FC)

If you’re reading our soccer column for in-depth commentary and analysis on Charlotte FC, I’m keeping that part short this week.

Karol Świderski finally overcame Charlotte FC’s streak of bad luck to score two goals on Saturday against the Chicago Fire, as well as a third that was disallowed on a dubious call. After starting the second half down 2-0, Świderski’s late heroics — his final goal was in the sixth minute of stoppage time — turned a loss into a draw, and then a draw into a win 

The 2-3 road win extinguished Chicago’s playoff hopes while keeping hope alive at Bank of America Stadium. Charlotte is now in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, four points out of the playoffs.
With that out of the way we’re doing something different for this article. In honor of Queen City Nerve’s annual Best in the Nest awards, we thought it’d be fun to poll Charlotte FC’s players and get some of their picks for what’s best in the city — in football and on the team. For example, goalkeeper George Marks really likes Rhino Market and there is a strong South End bias to the team’s food choices (not surprising given the stadium’s location).
We also like Pablo Sisniega’s suggestion of adding a beach to Charlotte. Guess that’s another vote to make I-277 a river!

(Questions and responses have been edited for space and clarity. Special thanks to Will Martin and Gwen Hernandez with Charlotte FC for helping to track down answers.) 

Where is your favorite place to grab a bite to eat in Charlotte?

Adam Armour, Defender: O-Ku or Flower Child.

Ben Bender, Midfielder: Ilios Crafted Greek or Curry Gate.

Brandt Bronico, Midfielder: Calle Sol.

McKinze Gaines, Forward: Mama Ricotta’s.

Kristijan Kahlina, Goalkeeper: North Italia.

Charlotte FC
Goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina. (Photo by Taylor Banner/Charlotte FC)

Jaylin Lindsey: O-Ku.

George Marks, Goalkeeper: Rhino Market & Deli.

Koa Santos, Defender: Yamazaru Sushi & Sake.

Andre Shinyashiki, Forward: O-Ku.

Pablo Sisniega, Goalkeeper: Noble Smoke.

What is your favorite food or snack?

Adam: Food is burgers, snack is hot Cheetos.

Ben: Steak.

Brandt: Pulled pork.

McKinze: Grapes.

Kristijan: Four-cheese pasta.

Jaylin: Sushi (food) and pretzel M&Ms (snack).

George: Rhino Market burrito or fruit (mango).

Koa: Hawaiian food (poke, plate lunch, etc).

Andre: Sushi.

Pablo: Tacos.

What is the best thing about Charlotte?

Adam: The size. It isn’t too small but there isn’t so much going on that it feels overwhelming.

Ben: People are genuinely nicer.

Brandt: The weather. You fully feel all four seasons.

McKinze: CLTFC

Kristijan: No traffic in Uptown.

Jaylin: Sports atmosphere within the city

George: Besides Rhino Market? The passion of the sports fans.

Koa: Everything is in close proximity.

Andre: The fans.

Pablo: The parks and how green everything is.

What is Charlotte missing?

Adam: An MLS title.

Ben: An 8+ pizzeria (as rated by Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy).

Brandt: Better public transportation.

McKinze: Whataburger.

Kristijan: (No answer)

Jaylin: Nothing. City got everything.

George: MLB team.

Koa: More people.

Andre: More Brazilians.

Pablo: A beach.

Are you watching the UEFA Champions League and Europa League tournaments? If so, who are you rooting for?

Adam: I’m watching both but I’m a big Arsenal fan so I’m watching a little more Europa league this year.

Ben: Manchester United. I try to watch Champions League but there are too many subscriptions on too many platforms.

Brandt: Yes, Chelsea F.C.

McKinze: Tottenham Hotspur.

Kristijan: Yes, Dinamo Zagreb.

Ben Bender has showed potential in the midfield. (Photo by Taylor Banner/Charlotte FC)

Jaylin: Liverpool F.C.

George: Yes. Watching Liverpool and Dinamo Zagreb, that’s who we’re rooting for. And Maccabi Haifa.

Koa: Yes, Arsenal. Gunners for life. 

Andre: Yes, Juventus.

Pablo: I am watching, and I follow mainly Real Madrid and Real Sociedad.

What are you watching on TV or reading?

Adam: Watching a lot of movies like Friday and The Pursuit of Happyness and I’m currently reading Will by Will Smith.

Ben: Sometimes Shark Tank.

Brandt: Watching The Boys, reading The Barcelona Way by Damian Hughes.

McKinze: Watching the Marvel movies in order, most recently Black Panther.

Kristijan: Soccer, or documentaries.

Jaylin: House of the Dragon.

George: Watching Suits and reading the fourth book in the Red Rising novel series.

Koa: Watching Suits, reading Maps of Meaning by Jordan B. Peterson.

Andre: Reading Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins.

Pablo: I am watching Stranger Things and I am reading The Power of Moments.

What is your favorite song or your “walk-out” song?

Adam: “Me, Myself & I” by G Herbo feat. A Boogie.

Ben: “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor.

Brandt: “Nail Tech” by Jack Harlow.

McKinze: “Banking on Me” by Gunna.

Kristijan: “Beli Zagreb.”

Jaylin: “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

George: My walk-out song is “Narco” by Blasterjaxx and Timmy Trumpet.

Koa: “Vampire” by Tribal Seeds.

Andre: “New Level” by A$AP Ferg.

Pablo: “Champion” by Kanye West.

Who is the funniest person on the team?

Adam: Has to be Harrison (Afful) and (Christian) Fuchs.

Ben: Jordy Alcívar.

Brandt: Ben Bender.

McKinze: Adam Armour, Jaylin Lindsey, George Marks, Koa Santos.

Kristijan: Adam Armour.

Jaylin: Jordy Alcívar.

George: Koa Santos.

Koa: Chris Hegardt.

Andre: Karol Świderski.

Pablo: Jordy Alcívar.

Jordy Alcívar, Charlotte FC
Jordy Alcívar got aggressive during the March 19 Charlotte FC match. (Photo by Taylor Banner/Charlotte FC)

What are you doing when the season is over?

Adam: I’ll be staying in Charlotte and rehabbing when the season ends in preparation for next year.

Ben: Going back to Maryland.

Brandt: Taking two weeks to let my body recover then focusing on the next season.

McKinze: Spending time with family and friends.

Kristijan: Going home to Croatia.

Jaylin: Hanging with my family a lot and doing workouts in the offseason.

George: Bettering myself as a human and a goalkeeper — staying in Charlotte.

Koa: Visiting some friends in San Diego then going to spend some time with family in Hawaii.

Andre: Going home to see my family in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Pablo: Going to México and to Spain to visit my family and my wife’s family.

The club couldn’t quite agree on who the funniest member of the team is, so I asked Charlotte FC interim head coach Christian Lattanzio to settle the debate. 

He couldn’t.

“There are a few that I can think of in different ways,” said Lattanzio. “As you asked me this question, I wanted to give you a couple of names but then [in my mind] more and more come. Then [it would] become boring because I’m going to mention everyone…”

“…I think everybody is funny, honestly.” 

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