Photo courtesy Indy Eleven
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte Independence announced on Friday it had signed Irish forward Éamon Zayed, and the return of veteran defender Henry Kalungi for his fourth season with the club. Zayed’s signing is pending approval of his P-1 visa.
Zayed arrives with the Independence from Indy Eleven, where he scored 26 goals over 59 games in two seasons. The 6-foot-2 striker is expected to add another element to Head Coach Mike Jeffries’ attack throughout the season as the Independence aim for a third consecutive trip to the USL Cup Playoffs.
“Zayed gives us the opportunity to have different options up front,” said Jeffries. “Some of the strikers on the team have different qualities, so it does give us the ability to have some different looks and tweak the system a little bit more than what we've had in previous years. Clearly, it adds to the opportunities to play directly with two strikers, or at times have another guy coming off the bench who is a real threat to score goals.”
A native of Dublin, Zayed has represented Libya internationally through his heritage, making eight appearances for the country since 2011. A prolific striker with clubs such as Drogheda United Football Club (Ireland), Derry City Football Club (Ireland), Persepolis Football Club (Iran), and Sabah Football Association (Malaysia), the 34-year-old now brings his scoring pedigree to the Independence.
Kalungi has not only established himself as a presence on the pitch over his prior three seasons with the Independence, but also in his community. The Rock Hill, South Carolina resident coaches a youth team from Discoveries SC and has made multiple charity efforts through the Henry Kalungi Foundation in his hometown of Kampala, Uganda.
Photo courtesy Charlotte Independence
“Henry is so much a part of the history of our group and the successes we've had, so it's good to have him back,” said Jeffries. “He clearly knows what is expected and has been a stalwart defender in the league for a number of years. It's a real positive addition bringing him back.”
Kalungi has made 142 appearances in the USL’s modern era, having played for the Richmond Kickers between 2011 and 2014. The 30-year-old started 27 games for the Independence a season ago and will certainly factor into the defensive group in 2018.
“We don't have depth at the current moment, so having another guy that can play almost anywhere along the back line, it's a plus and necessary,” said Jeffries. “It's a long season and it does require the whole group to contribute and step up.”