CHARLOTTE – The Charlotte Independence professional soccer team announced five players will return for the upcoming season.
Midfielder Alex Martinez, 27, returns for his fifth season. Martinez was in the starting lineup 29 times last year, tallying 77 tackles and 1,403 passes.
Defender Joel Johnson, 26, returns for his fourth season. Johnson led the squad with 2,586 minutes played. He contributed two assists and 111 crosses.
Midfielder Kevan George, goalkeeper Brandon Miller and midfielder Jake Areman return for their second seasons.
George, 28, tallied 1,396 passes and a 84.7 percent pass-accuracy rate. He netted two goals including the game-winner versus Nashville SC, and led the club with 57 intercepted passes.
Miller, 28, overcame a broken wrist in the pre-season. The Charlotte Country Day alum had 20 starts with two clean sheets.
Areman, 22, notched two goals, including the game-winner against the Richmond Kickers in a late-season game. He earned 10 starts and 23 games played.
Midfielder Yann Ekra has signed with the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Forward Eamon Zayed has signed with Chattanooga Red Wolves SC. The Independence is in negotiations with forward Jorge Herrera.
Conor O’Brien, Bilal Duckett, Greg Jordan, Henry Kalungi, James Kiffe, Je-Vaughn Watson, Kay Voser, Mutaya Mwape, Cordell Cato have become free agents.
Former defender Donnie Smith has joined the front office. Smith will assist the marketing and sales teams as he pursues further education at UNC Charlotte.