CHARLOTTE, NC April 9, 2015 — The Charlotte Independence today announced the signing of an additional defender, as 25-year-old Bilal Duckett has agreed to terms with the USL expansion team. Duckett arrived in Charlotte Tuesday evening and began training with the team Wednesday morning.
The signing marks something of a homecoming for Duckett, who spent the 2014 season playing for the Charlotte Eagles under current Independence General Manager Tom Engstrom. While with the Eagles, Duckett made 28 appearances — including 25 starts — and recorded seven shots, 18 fouls and one yellow card.
The Independence has a bye this week, giving Duckett optimal time to get settled in and comfortable with his new squad. He had been in California the past couple months working out with the Sacramento Republic.
“I’m happy to be back, I like what they’ve done with the organization so far,” said Duckett. “From the first couple of games, even though we haven’t gotten the results, you see a team that really wants to play and wants to push each other to get better. It’s a great group of guys and credit that to the coaching staff and the front office for bringing in a group of players that can compete right away. It’s never easy to set the standard this high, as it’s been set here in the team’s inaugural season, but I truly believe that the sky is the limit with this team. I’ve played a lot of places and there’s some really good players here and a lot of good movement off the ball. It’s going to be a good season for sure.”
Originally drafted by the Vancouver Whitecaps in the third round (37th overall) of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, Duckett made his professional debut on June 1 in a game against Chivas USA. The defender appeared in three more MLS matches that season before signing a contract with USL club the Harrisburg City Islanders in March 2012. He made 19 appearances as a defender and helped the team advance to the USL PRO playoffs.
Duckett returned to the MLS ranks in 2013, signing a contract with the New England Revolution. He appeared in one Revolution game before being loaned to the club’s USL affiliate, the Rochester Rhinos. The defender played 19 games for the Rhinos that season, scoring one goal.
A native of Macon, Ga., Duckett played collegiately at Notre Dame University. He started 40 of the team’s 42 matches in his junior and senior years, tallying one goal.
“We have bolstered our defensive corps with the signing of Bilal,” said Independence Head Coach Mike Jeffries. “He brings athleticism and experience to our backline. He is comfortable anywhere across the back line with good 1 v. 1 defensive qualities and the ability to close space quickly.”
The Independence return to action on Saturday, April 18, with a road match against the Richmond Kickers. Kickoff is set for 7:00pm at City Stadium and the match will be streamed live on YouTube.
About Charlotte Independence
The Charlotte Independence joined USL as an expansion team in September 2014. The team, owned and operated by Queen City Soccer Club LLC, begins play in the spring of 2015. The goal of Queen City S.C. is to make Charlotte a better place to live by being the premier sports and entertainment company in our region through annual increases in both the quality and quantity of the events we provide for our community.