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USL: Jim McGuinness out as head coach of Charlotte Independence

Charlotte was off to its worst start ever in club history at 1-7-6 under McGuinness, who had previously worked with Celtic FC.

Charlotte Independence head coach Jim McGuinness watches from the sideline as his team battles Indy Eleven on March 15, 2019 in Matthews, N.C. (Mitchell Northam / Pro Soccer USA)

Just 15 games into his tenure as manager of the USL Championship’s Charlotte Independence, Jim McGuinness’s reign at the club is over.

The Independence announced Wednesday that it had sacked the Irish manager after a 1-7-6 start in league play. Charlotte also fell in its only U.S. Open Cup contest this season, losing in penalty kicks at home to the semi-pro Florida Soccer Soldiers.

Charlotte general manager Mike Jefferies, who coached the club from 2015 through 2018, will resume coaching duties.

“Jim McGuinness has improved our club in many ways, including bringing talent to our roster and instituting new training methodologies – both of which we hope to continue moving forward,” Jim McPhilliamy, the president of the club, said in a statement. “As a club, our performance is measured on the pitch and collectively, we’ve fallen short.”

McGuinness, 46, was given a three-year contract by the Independence in December after working with Scottish Premier League giant Celtic FC and Chinese side Beijing Sinobo Guoan F.C. McGuinness also previously managed Donegal, an inter-county team in Ireland, and he has a UEFA A coaching license. He had also provided commentary on Sky Sports soccer broadcasts.

Charlotte entered this season with a roster full of talent. The club brought back former league Golden Boot runner-up Enzo Martinez, landed Hermann Trophy winner Andrew Gutman on-loan from Celtic, signed MLS veteran forward Dominic Oduro, landed Niki Jackson on-loan from the Colorado Rapids and brought in goalkeeper Curtis Anderson, a Manchester City academy product who played for England in the U-17 World Cup in 2017. During the season, Charlotte also signed former Atlanta United academy product Zyen Jones, Curacao national team midfielder Michael Maria and then landed Hasan Ndam on-loan from FC Cincinnati.

But all that talent never translated into many results. Charlotte didn’t win its first game until April 16 and is 0-2-3 in its last five games. It wasn’t all bad under McGuinness though, as the Independence did notch road draws against two top-of-the-table teams in the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Nashville SC.

Charlotte’s next game, and Jefferies’ first back on the sideline, is this Saturday at home in Matthews, N.C. against the Birmingham Legion.

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