Crown Legacy FC

Charlotte FC Signs Crown Legacy FC Goalkeeper Chituru Odunze and Defender João Pedro

January 18, 2024 - MLS NEXT Pro (MLS NEXT Pro)
Crown Legacy FC News Release

CHARLOTTE, NC - Charlotte FC announced today the Club has signed Crown Legacy FC goalkeeper Chituru Odunze and defender João Pedro.

Odunze joins on a contract guaranteed through 2027 with a club option for 2028. Pedro is guaranteed through 2026 with a club option for 2027.

"These signings show the importance and purpose of Crown Legacy FC, giving young, talented players a place to develop and prepare them for the next step in their careers," said Crown Legacy FC President Darrius Barnes. "João and Chituru were given the opportunity to grow as footballers on and off the pitch and proved themselves deserving of a Major League Soccer contract. We are proud of João and Chituru and hope that they continue to be an example for current and future Crown Legacy players."

A Raleigh native, Odunze joined Crown Legacy FC during the 2023 summer transfer window and started three matches. During his time in goal, Odunze produced nine saves and kept one clean sheet with CLFC.

"Chituru is a talented prospect that we were delighted to bring into our system with Crown Legacy FC last season," said Sporting Director Zoran Krneta. "Since arriving in Charlotte, Chituru has demonstrated that he is a special talent with the intangibles to excel in Major League Soccer. We are delighted to watch him take the next step in his career and join our First Team on a full-time basis in 2024 and beyond."

Odunze, 21, is a regular in the United States Youth National Team system, most recently representing the Stars and Stripes with the USYNT U-23s at the 2023 Pan-American Games in Chile. The goalkeeper has also been called into the US Men's National Team in November 2020 and March 2021.

Prior to joining Crown Legacy FC, Odunze was at Leicester City during their spell in the English Premier League, starting 20 matches for the U-21 side in the 2022/23 Premier League 2 season.

Born in Raleigh, the goalkeeper spent much of his childhood in England and Canada, featuring in both Chelsea FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC's academies before moving to Leicester City at the age of 16.

Known as JP by coaches and teammates, João Pedro joins Charlotte FC after a standout season where he earned MLS NEXT Pro Best XI honors with Crown Legacy FC. The Brazilian center back was a mainstay in CLFC's stout defense, featuring in 26 matches, recording over 2,000 minutes for the side that conceded the fewest number of goals in the Eastern Conference. Pedro showed his versatility along the backline as well, often flexing wide playing as a left back.

The Club exercised the purchase option on Pedro's loan agreement from Atletico Paranaense to join the first team.

"João impressed us throughout his season with Crown Legacy FC and his ability to defend in multiple positions while also being an attacking threat makes JP a unique talent and highly touted prospect," said Sporting Director Zoran Krneta. "We are excited to continue investing in his development as he adds depth to our defensive core."

Although he earned accolades for his defending, Pedro showed his attacking prowess throughout the 2023 season, contributing two goals and three assists for CLFC. His most notable goal was a 99th minute equalizer from distance against Toronto FC II last season to keep CLFC atop of the Eastern Conference standings. The defender also emerged as Crown Legacy FC's main set piece taker, making himself a scoring threat from anywhere on the pitch.

Pedro, 20, featured in Brazil's youth international ranks, most recently representing the South American nation at the U-20 level in a 4-0 victory over a United States side featuring multiple MLS players.

Before transitioning to the Queen City, Pedro rose through the Atletico Paranaense Academy, eventually earning a professional contract and consistent minutes with its U-20 team.

Transaction: Charlotte FC signs Goalkeeper Chituru Odunze and Defender João Pedro from Crown Legacy FC

Name: Chituru Odunze

Position: Goalkeeper

Height: 6'7"

Weight: 200 lbs

Date of Birth: October 14, 2002

Age: 21

Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina

Last Club: Crown Legacy FC

How Acquired: Signed from Crown Legacy FC

Name: João Pedro Reginaldo

Position: Defender

Height: 6'0

Weight: 161 lbs

Date of Birth: March 14, 2003

Age: 20

Hometown: Indaiatuba, Brazil

Last Club: Crown Legacy FC

How Acquired: Signed from Crown Legacy FC

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