Brian Romero, 16, helped Charlotte FC beat Chelsea

Everybody who’s a part of Charlotte FC wished to congratulate Brian Romero.

Gamers and crew officers walked down the hallway resulting in the crew’s locker room and paused to shout phrases of encouragement his means throughout postgame interviews. Interim head coach Christian Lattanzio came to visit and clasped Romero’s hand in a hearty handshake earlier than strolling off to his press convention.

The Financial institution of America crowd had already showered the 16-year-old academy participant with cheering renditions of his identify as third-string goaltender Pablo Sisniega carried him off the pitch, into the tunnel and onto stardom — a minimum of for an evening. Each little bit of that focus was earned.

Romero had entered Charlotte’s Wednesday night time pleasant towards Chelsea within the 89th minute, his first on-field motion for the membership.

With little time remaining and Charlotte down by a aim, he drew a pair of defenders as he swerved to the left nook of the field. His shot caromed off a Chelsea participant’s hand, incomes the house crew a penalty that Daniel Rios would convert to power penalty kicks, which Charlotte FC received 5-3.

“I simply obtained the ball in my ft,” Romero mentioned. “I stored going with my left after which I am like, ‘Shoot it.’ There’s nothing to lose.”

The rising junior at Jay M. Robinson Excessive Faculty by no means noticed the ref sign for the penalty. As an alternative he simply noticed the ball within the center, a defender mendacity down and heard a refrain of cheers earlier than piecing the scene collectively.

“Oh it is a pen! It is a pen!” he counted dramatically. “Then I obtained so glad and excited.”

After Kamil Jóźwiak’s ultimate penalty kick that sealed the victory, Romero celebrated along with his teammates earlier than ambling across the Financial institution of America stadium. He maintained an ear-to-ear grin as he hugged Lattanzio, took a photograph with Chelsea midfielder Jorginho and obtained hoisted into the air by Andre Shinyashiki.

Emotion lastly overcame him as he noticed his household. He embraced his dad and mom and cried into their arms — tears they matched.

Membership proprietor David Tepper, left, hugs Charlotte FC’s Brian Romero after the win towards Chelsea on the Financial institution of America Stadium in Charlotte on Wednesday. Khadejeh Nikouyeh [email protected]

Charlotte FC scouted Romero from Charlotte Soccer Academy. Whereas he suited up for a pair of preseason matches earlier this 12 months, he remained on the bench for each, making Wednesday’s look a particular second.

Romero’s mom, Maria de Jesus Romero-Piza, was driving him Tuesday night time (he would not have his license or learner’s allow) when he discovered he had an opportunity to play towards Chelsea. The ahead started screaming with pleasure on the information.

Whereas Romero did not develop up a Chelsea fan, he is watched them since he was younger and knew the crew properly from their matchups towards his favourite crew, FC Barcelona.

When Lattanzio lastly tapped him to enter the sport, Romero mentioned he could not consider it. Neither may his father, William Carmona-Salado, who mentioned through e mail that he wished to scream his son’s identify and felt many feelings via his tears.

Romero made his technique to the sideline, incomes cheers of encouragement from the gamers on the bench.

“He is a particular participant,” Brandt Bronico mentioned. “I imply, he is a particular, particular child. He has a really vibrant future.”

That future is made brighter by his development beneath Lattanzio. The coach, who’s been praised for his participant improvement abilities, balances giving Romero freedom to play his recreation with the self-discipline a younger participant wants.

Romero recalled moments in follow the place the coach warned him to ship agency passes and keep away from pointless dribbles, telling him these have been areas to enhance as he approached the large leagues.

However he additionally mentioned Lattanzio lets him dribble when required, recommendation that paid off when he earned the fateful penalty.

The coach praised Romero’s confidence, saying that he appreciated his power and positivity. He additionally famous that regardless of his youth, the ahead treats everyone on the pitch the identical and performs his recreation reasonably than being awed by the second.

“He is (a) very respectful child with the gamers and the workers,” Lattanzio mentioned. “However when he has the ball, he is not so respectful.”

This story was initially revealed July 22, 2022 6:00 AM.

Varun Shankar is a junior on the College of Maryland who’s interning with The Charlotte Observer’s sports activities part for the summer time. He is a sports activities editor and reporter for Maryland’s scholar newspaper, The Diamondback, and a highschool sports activities author for The Washington Put up.


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