Kevan George has unfinished business in Charlotte.
A recent addition to the Charlotte Independence midfield, George returns to Charlotte for club, but initially came for country. His previous experience with the Queen City came in the 2015 Gold Cup group stage at Bank of America Stadium where his Trinidad and Tobago Soca Warriors won Group C with a 4-all draw against Mexico in a game that literally shook the stadium.
“Against Mexico, that’s our World Cup,” George said. “They have great players, but I was very nervous. The night before that game, I couldn’t sleep. I’ll be honest, because I don’t think I’ve played in a game of that magnitude up to that point. On game day, there was a sense of calm.”
That first trip to Charlotte left an impression on George.
“Maybe it was meant to be,” he said. “We had our best and most historical game outside of the World Cup there against Mexico. We’re a small country so that means a lot to us. Maybe it was meant to be for me to come back to Charlotte, because it felt like unfinished business.”
That experience convinced George, who is no stranger to international play, that Charlotte is a “soccer city.”
“The energy around the city,” he said. “I did not know that Charlotte was a soccer city, but that day, oh my. The goosebumps just traveling to the stadium, seeing everyone in the streets, it reminded me of when we played in Argentina. It was just great to see, and personally my best experience as a soccer player. The result wasn’t too bad, but we’ll take 4-4 any day against Mexico.”
George, who joins the Jacks from the NASL’s Jacksonville Armada, replaces defensive midfielder Jun Marques Davidson.
“He gives us a real anchor in the middle of the field,” Charlotte coach Mike Jeffries said. “Not only a guy who is good in possession and can help us build the attack, but a real physical presence, which helps us defensively.”
The role remains pivotal for Charlotte’s ability to maintain possession and play out of the back, as they often did through Davidson and center backs Bilal Duckett (who has re-signed with the club) and Henry Kalungi.
“My role with the squad won’t change,” George said. “I’m a defensive midfielder by trade and by birth.”
Said Duckett: “I’ve known Kevan since high school. When I got word that he was even considering coming here in the offseason, I got really excited. There’s few opportunities to play with somebody that you’ve held in high regard as a peer for a very long time, and you’ve both been seasoned pros for a little bit, seen the world a bit, and come back. It feels like a little bit of a hometown reunion.”
Originally published in the Charlotte Post