History of the Eagles (1994-96)

Date Published: 

June 29, 2012 - United Soccer League Championship (USL) - Charlotte Eagles News Release

1994: The Charlotte Eagles doubled their win total to 10 wins in year two to finish with a 10-8 record and a third place finish in the nine team Atlantic Division. The Eagles defeated the Raleigh Flyers 2-0 in the Conference Semi-finals before losing to Charleston in the Conference finals. In 1994, the USISL consisted of 69 franchises of which eight franchises are still competing in the USL. The USISL's Atlantic Division's Greensboro Dynamo hosted the USISL's Sizzling Nine and won the league championship by defeating the Minnesota Thunder 2-1 in a shootout. The 1994 season would be the first of nine consecutive winning seasons for the Eagles.

The Eagles improved through the development of a number of second year players and the addition of several new players. A trio of Trinidad and Tobago National Team players (Philbert Jones, Larry Joseph and Clayton Morris) strengthened the squad. Morris, a long time captain for the T and T National Team assumed a captain's role with the Eagles. Morris solidified a defense along with some second year veteran's such as the speedy Kevin Willis, Brad McCarty, Brad McGlaughlin, Graham Dancy (England) and Meanu Kayea. Former US National Team goalkeeper Jeff Duback also joined the team.

Philbert Jones, Jon Payne (All-ACC from Clemson) and Keith Dakin became a real formidable trio in attack. Philippe Berthoud played his first of four impactful seasons. Kelly Findley and Mike Rivas, who would later work together on the coaching staff at Butler University, were among the midfielders.


...... Dr. Jon Payne is the senior pastor at Grace Presbyterian Church in Douglasville, GA.

...... Eric Mills is the outreach pastor at Heritage Church in Rock Island, IL.

...... John (Johnny V.) Vermilya is the Lead Teaching Pastor at The Tabernacle in Northern Michigan.

1995: In 1995 the Eagles left the pro-am division of the USISL for the 55 team USISL Pro Division. Many of the top players in the country competed in the USISL because Major League Soccer would not start until the next year. The Eagles continued to show improvement on the field in year three. The team finished second in the difficult Atlantic Division with a 14-6 record. The Eagles lost to the Raleigh Flyers in the playoffs 2-0. Raleigh featured Jason Kreis would go on to become the All-time leading scorer in Major League Soccer and is the current head coach of Real Salt Lake (MLS). Six players from the Atlantic Division's Myrtle Beach Boyz were drafted by Major League Soccer the following year. The Eagles had a dynamic scoring trio of Keith Dakin (14 goals, 6 assists), Jamie Wellington (14 goals, 2 assists) and Jon Payne (9 goals, 8 assists).

The Eagles roots into the Charlotte community became deeper and deeper. Several players (Philippe Berthoud, Tom Engstrom, Brad McGlaughlin, Eric Mills, John Vermilya, Graham West, and Paul Zimmerman) from the team became full-time staff members with the Charlotte Eagles (Missionary Athletes International). Laurel Hilts and Robin Burgess were key full-time staff dedicated to the development of the team.


...... Phil Wolf, the current Head Coach at Point Loma Nazarene in CA was the 2005 and 2007 NAIA National Coach of the Year while at Azusa Pacific.

...... Scott Cook is the Senior Pastor at Christ Our Hope Church in Wake Forest, NC.

...... Graham West is a current assistant coach with both the Eagles and Lady Eagles teams.

1996: Major League Soccer started in 1996. In 1996, the USL split into two pro divisions, the Select League and the 27 team D3 Pro League. The Eagles finished with a league best 12-4 record in the D3 Pro League. The Eagles lost 3-0 to a new rival, the Wilmington Hammerheads, in the conference playoffs. The Eagles dominated parts of the game but were stone-walled by the Hammerheads goalkeeper Alex Deegan (Davidson College). By nature of having the league's best regular season record the Eagles were given the at-large berth in the D3 Pro League's Sizzling Six National Championship playoffs. The Eagles advanced to the National Championship Game where they lost 3-2 in a shootout to the Charleston Battery at Stoney Field in Charleston, SC.

Desmond Armstrong was an important addition to the club. Armstrong, a long time US National Team player, played all 270 minutes for the United States in the 1990 World Cup. Armstrong gave up an opportunity in Major League Soccer to boost the young Eagles organization.

Defender John Bossard was a symbol of the hard working team the Eagles had become known for. Bossard brought his hard hat and lunch pail every time out and shut down many a dangerous attacking player. Goalkeepers Neal Andrews (Davidson College) and Paul Zimmerman (Michigan State) solidified the defense.

Trinidad and Tobago International Philbert Jones was the scoring champion for the league.

A highlight of the season was a two week trip to the West Coast that included three games and about 30 clinics conducted with church and youth clubs throughout the West Coast.


...... Dr. Joshua Farrar is a medical doctor in Charleston, SC.

...... Todd Elkins is the Head Coach of the Southern California Seahorses (MAI).

...... Martin Rennie is the Head Coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps (Major League Soccer.

...... Tim Donelli is the Southeast USA Director for Hockey Ministries International.

...... Brad Wylde is the Executive Director for Charlotte Soccer Academy.

...... Desmond Armstrong is currently the General Manager of the Nashville Metros in the PDL.