St. John’s Antigua- Senior national and LIME Old Road’s striker Stefan Smith will not be representing Antigua Barracuda in the United Soccer Leagues (USL) PRO division this season.
The 23-year-old forward has recently signed a professional contract with Charlotte Eagles, which is another USL Professional Division team.
Earlier today, Old Road’s head coach Derrick “Pretty Boy” Edwards said Smith is expected to leave Antigua this week to join the Eagles to begin preparations for the upcoming USL PRO season.
“Over the last four years I have been at Old Road and one of my goals is to get somebody out playing professionally. I achieved my goal because I am delighted to say that Stefan Smith has signed a contract with Charlotte Eagles,” Edwards said.
“It’s done, signed and delivered. He will be leaving between (Tuesday) and Thursday and it’s an honour for me.”
Smith enjoyed another prolific Antigua & Barbuda Football Association’s (ABFA) season in which he scored 16 goals as the league’s chief marksman in leading Old Road to a successful defence of their Premier Division title.
Smith began his career in 2008, playing for Old Road in Premier Division. He was the top scorer in the league in his debut season in 2008/09, scoring 17 goals, and helped the team finish as runners-up to Bassa in 2009/10.
In 2011, Smith transferred to the new Antigua Barracuda FC team, prior to its first season in USL PRO.
He made his debut for the Barracudas on April 17, 2011, in the team’s first-ever competitive game, a 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Blues.
Edwards said he is quite elated that the hard-working and humble Smith was able to secure the contract via Old Road FC.
“I am happy for Stefan. He is a hard worker. He is determined. He is a guy that has the passion and he has the ability to learn. He is humble. He is not a guy that likes to go out there and boast and show-off. He is in his own little area and I am glad for that,” Edwards said.
“I am glad that he is getting the opportunity to go out there and apply his trade in a different country. I just hope that he puts his best foot forward.”
The coach is also hoping that Smith’s tenure at the Eagles will be a gateway for more Antiguans to secure professional contracts at the USL PRO club.
The Charlotte Eagles are a men’s professional soccer franchise that competes in the USL PRO Division of the United Soccer Leagues. The USL PRO consists of 13 teams across the US and Caribbean.
Entering their 21st season in the USL, the Eagles are owned and operated by Missionary Athletes International with a vision to do sports ministry through the platform of soccer.
Ironically, Charlotte Eagles will face Antigua Barracuda in their opening game this season at Queens Sports Complex in Charlotte, North Carolina on April 13.