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Patrick Agyemang Traces His Journey from CT to Charlotte FC

Young striker's success is a testament of his determination

Patrick Agyemang celebrates a goal during a Charlotte FC game. (Photo by Taylor Banner/Charlotte FC)

Charlotte Football Club’s Patrick Agyemang is comfortable and relaxed. He’s just come out of a post-practice massage, and in a couple minutes head coach Dean Smith will tell the members of the media assembled for the coach’s Thursday press conference that Agyemang is available for Charlotte’s match in two days in Vancouver.

Because of a minor injury, he missed the first match of the season.

“Big Pat” — he’s listed as 6’4” on the roster — looks on as I set up my recording equipment in an office in the new Charlotte FC headquarters south of Monroe Road. Looking out on a huge bullpen of Charlotte FC sales and support staff, most employees are on their phones, surrounded by club merch and assembling gifts for season ticket holders as they work to pack the stadium for future matches.

The player I’m sitting next to is one of their biggest selling points.

Making waves in MLS

2023 was Patrick Agyemang’s first year with the Charlotte FC organization.

“I went to preseason with the first team,” says Agyemang. “I knew I needed a little more play time and they let me play with the second team and just develop there.”

Agyemang started in the first regular season match for Crown Legacy FC, which plays in the MLS NEXT Pro league. He had his first goal for Legacy in his fifth start, and quickly drew the attention of fans who follow the club.

patrick agyemang interacting with charlotte fc fans
Patrick Agyemang engages with fans after an MLS Next Pro game against Huntsville. (Photo by Alana McCallion/Charlotte FC)

“Whenever we stepped on the field, it’s like, ‘Let’s make the fans enjoy the game we play,’” said Agyemang. “I loved [playing for Crown Legacy] because [coach Jose Tavares] allowed me to play my game and really be composed and not as tense as I once was … once I got going and the goals started coming, it’s like, ‘This is how I want to feel.’”

By May, Agyemang was appearing on Charlotte FC’s roster as a reserve player, and by the end of the month he was coming off the bench, albeit in extra time with only seconds left in the match.

“Once I got the chance I just wanted to take it,” said Agyemang. “It was a good process for me.”

The next week, in June, Agyemang started for the first time in MLS play in an otherwise unremarkable 4-2 loss in Columbus.

“I want to play for the first team, so when I got the opportunity it was all I was asking for,” said Agyemang. “I was just hoping to take advantage.”

It didn’t take long for that to happen. The week after the loss to Columbus, during Charlotte’s June 10 home match against the Seattle Sounders, Agyemang came off the bench in the 75th minute. Big Pat entered the pitch right after the Sounders scored a third goal to go ahead 2-3.

In the closing minutes of the match, Charlotte was pressing Seattle but couldn’t break through. Midfielder Brandt Bronico, outside of the left corner of the penalty box, passed the ball back to defender Nathan Byrne.

Byrne, seeing Agyemang with the height advantage at the penalty spot, chipped the ball at just the right height for the young striker to take advantage.

Agyemang’s head connected with the pass, putting the ball in the right corner of the net for an equalizer that would turn a loss into a draw for Charlotte. In the 89th minute of play, Big Pat had just scored his first MLS goal.

Most soccer players would call that an accomplished weekend. The very next day, however, Agyemang traveled with Crown Legacy to Ohio to play Columbus Crew 2, the team he scored his first MLS NEXT Pro goal against.

Patrick Agyemang is a soccer player for Charlotte FC
Patrick Agyemang celebrates following an MLS Next Pro game. (Photo by Alana McCallion/Charlotte FC)

In the 10th minute, Columbus goalkeeper Stanislav Lapkes came out of the box to block a long pass from Crown Legacy captain David Poreba. The keeper tried to clear the ball, but it ended up on the foot of Agyemang far outside the box.

The keeper, however, left an open goal. Agyemang blasted the ball into the net from the midfield, becoming the first player ever to score in an MLS match and an MLS NEXT Pro match in the same weekend — a feat that is yet to be matched.

He would continue to make an impact with two goals in the Leagues Cup competition, winning the Soccer Sheet fan vote for Breakout Local Star.

This year, he’s joined some of his Crown Legacy teammates as fixtures in Charlotte FC’s first team squad.

All of that seems improbable for someone who was a Division III college soccer player just a couple of years ago. Agyemang’s hometown paper, the Hartford Courant, called him a late bloomer “who made up for lost time.”

It’s an unlikely story that brought him to Major League Soccer — and to Charlotte.

Family roots and soccer dreams

Born and raised in East Hartford, Connecticut by Ghanaian parents, the young Patrick was always interested in soccer, an interest nurtured by his father and two older twin brothers, Enoch and Emmanuel.

“Both my brothers, we’re a soccer family, we enjoy the game so it [was always part of our lives] growing up,” says Agyemang. “I played starting in the backyard with my dad [and] my two brothers.”

I spoke to Patrick’s brother, Enoch, and his father, Patrick Sr., together on the phone.

“He was very energetic,” Enoch said of Patrick. “Every single day we used to play soccer in the backyard.”

Young Patrick Agyemang showed an interest in soccer. (Photo courtesy of Pat Sr.)

Patrick Sr. said his son’s interests growing up were soccer and books, with Enoch describing the books as motivational ones. Patrick Sr. told me his son Pat loved soccer so much that one time at a department store, when the family was shopping for basketball clothes, toddler Pat refused to take the basketball clothes and instead put on soccer clothes.

He developed a strong work ethic by watching his parents work to support their family.

“My dad and my mom, they worked multiple jobs, and for my brothers and I it was tough to see,” said Agyemang. “You see them working, and you see how tired they are, and always in your mind, it’s like, ‘I want to help them.’”

Patrick Sr. told me his goal when he moved from Ghana to the United States was to make sure his sons had opportunities. He recalled making numerous sacrifices — including working up to three jobs to make ends meet — to give his sons the chance to play soccer competitively.

“My dream was to get my children in a good position,” said Patrick Sr. “They were very good kids so we sacrificed for them.”

Patrick is clearly grateful for the sacrifices his parents made to allow him to play soccer, as he was then.

“I think at that point was where my mind was set … I want to do whatever it takes to help my family, and give back to them,” says Agyemang. “I have a drive, and [my parents] are a big part of it.”

Patrick Agyemang and Michael Torres celebrate after the 16-and-under Harford Soccer Club won the state cup. (Photo courtesy of Brian Gallagher/Hartford Soccer Club)

Agyemang’s youth soccer career grew from the backyard into rec soccer, then travel leagues where Patrick learned that he “really loved the sport.” He played in middle school, at East Hartford High School, and at the club level in Hartford.

“They’re like my family, still to now,” Agyemang says of the Hartford Soccer Club, where he played for five years.

Brian Gallagher, club president and coach with Hartford Soccer Club told me, “Patrick was a great young player. He was fast, skilled, and a very hard worker. He was not tall though until he was in college.”

Enoch remembers his brother a little differently, with 5’8” Patrick getting a growth spurt in his junior year and not stopping until he reached 6’4”.

From Division III to professional leagues

In his senior year of high school, Agyemang accepted an offer to play soccer at Eastern Connecticut State University, in NCAA Division III. In his first year with the team, he scored nine goals in 18 appearances and won Little East Rookie of the Year.

“I thought that was the best fit for me,” said Agyemang. “I honestly thought I was going to stay there, but COVID hit.”

From there, Agyemang reevaluated his priorities, and sought a bigger challenge. Agyemang credits his faith, his family, and the drive he got from his parents for inspiring him to take the next step.

patrick agyemang kicking the ball during a game
Patrick Agyemang during an MLS Next Pro match against Cincinatti. (Photo by Taylor Banner/Charlotte FC)

The pandemic became a training opportunity for the then-19-year-old Agyemang, who joined training groups with other players — including Division I players. He made friends, one of whom put in a good word with the coach at the University of Rhode Island. When Agyemang entered the college transfer portal, he ended up in the state next door — at a Division I program.

During our interview, when we get to Patrick’s time with the Rhode Island Rams, I jokingly mention that I have to disclose I went to Davidson College — one of their conference rivals in the Atlantic 10.

Laughing, he responds, “Davidson beat me my last official college game, so that was tough.”

Despite that bittersweet ending, Agyemang’s time at Rhode Island included a lot of highlights, including a hat trick in his first full season.

“I think my favorite memory [from Rhode Island] was when I scored a hat trick against Brown [University],” says Agyemang, recalling that in the previous match against Providence, he missed a chance at a game-winner in overtime, then missed a penalty kick. 

On the afternoon when we’re chatting, a moment from Charlotte FC’s previous match is still fresh in everyone’s mind: Kerwin Vargas’ missed penalty kick in the 2024 season opener. None of the players are mad at Vargas — winning the match helps a lot. Instead, they have sympathy because they’ve all been there, including Agyemang.

Patrick Agyemang celebrates a goal during a Charlotte FC game. (Photo by Taylor Banner/Charlotte FC)

“So we tied one-one, where I had two opportunities to score,” says Agyemang, still recalling the Providence match “That game tore at me, it bothered me for so long. So then my next game was Brown, and I end up scoring a hat trick against Brown. And it was one of the most memorable things, because it was such a quick change of emotions and how I felt. I was down for I don’t even know how many days and then played a game and now I’m back up. So, I think that was a big one and it did make me realize … ‘I’m good enough to be here.’”

Despite the transfer and a shortened season due to COVID, Agyemang finished his career at Rhode Island with 19 goals over three years. In 2021, during the offseason between his junior and senior years, he played for the USL League 2 Western Mass Pioneers on the fourth tier of the American football pyramid, scoring six goals as the team finished first in the Eastern Conference.

Combined, this impressive record led Agyemang to be picked 12th in the MLS SuperDraft by Charlotte FC, making him the first-ever Rhode Island player to be picked in the first round.

Potential, progress and passion

When I spoke with Charlotte FC head coach Dean Smith later in the day, he made it clear why other MLS sides should fear Big Pat this season — even if he still needs to improve his dribbling.

“I was actually more impressed [with Patrick] when I saw him personally on the training pitch than I was on the film,” said Smith. “I’d seen him make an impact from the subs bench a few times for the team last season, but then when you start working with him — and I always look at it, as a player, who I wouldn’t want to play against, and he’s one I wouldn’t want to play against.”

patrick running with a soccer ball in his hand
Patrick Agyemang on the pitch forgetting what sport he’s playing. (Photo by Charlotte FC)

Smith said Agyemang reminded him “straight away” of Tammy Abraham, the England national team player who scored 25 goals under Smith at Aston Villa, helping to secure the club’s promotion to the Premier League in 2019. When I told Enoch about that comparison, he told me he had been comparing his brother to Abraham during the latter’s time at Chelsea.

For a coach that evaluates players by personality, Agyemang is a good fit for Smith.

“[Patrick has] got attributes that can really help at this level of football,” continued Smith. “He’s still got a lot of work to do, I think he’s only been in the pro game now a year, so he needs to tidy his feet up a little bit, but he knows where to run … [and] he knows how to score goals. Consistency is going to be the key for him now.”

The coach sees the striker as someone who’s coachable, and who wants to learn; someone who is inquisitive and asks questions — all attributes Agyemang will need to sharpen his game and make it to the next level.

“I don’t know [what the ceiling is for Patrick] to be honest, until he starts starting games and getting involved in the team … until he really starts getting himself into that starting 11, we won’t know.”

Big Pat, for his part, is confident in his style of play.

“I like to be a force up top. So if the ball’s behind, and I’m running, you better hope you’re in front of me or it’s going to be a long day,” said Agyemang. “Whatever I have to fight for, I’m going to fight for it. I always think when it comes to the crunch time, if I’m there, I’m always going to create something.”

All of his goals for the first team have come in the 80th minute or later, making him indisputably a crunch-time player. Many local soccer pundits think Agyemang has already earned a permanent place on the pitch.

“I first realized what Patrick was capable of when I saw him playing for Crown Legacy, his combination of size and speed was instantly impressive but it was the ideas he looked to execute with the ball at his feet that really stood out the longer I watched,” said Daniel Bramlette, co-host of the Charlotte Soccer Show podcast. “Once I saw how great he was engaging with kids at Legacy Lawn, he had a fan for life.”

“It’s simple: whenever Big Pat plays, goals are scored,” Bramlette concluded.

“I really think this season is his season for sure,” Enoch told me before his dad chimed in over the phone, “I’m hoping for the best.”

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