Every midfield needs an engine to make the machine turn and in Charlton Muhlauri, Boston City have that spark to ignite the team going into the new National Premier Soccer League season.
‘Charlie’ came to the United States from Harare in Zimbabwe six years ago to attend Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire, before playing college soccer at Northeastern. After a successful time with the Huskies, he has played for several local teams and was brought to Boston City by new coach Michael Bustamante.
“Michael is a great guy and I’ve heard a lot about Boston City and that they have a good fan base,” said Charlie. “I know some guys on the team and that’s another reason I came here. I’ve played for other teams in the area and they’re not as diverse as the squad we have here. I like that I get to meet new people who speak new languages and are from different cultures, so that’s pretty impressive. It’s Boston’s team too, so that is even more attractive.”
Charlie stood out – not just because of his distinctive dreadlocks in the heart of midfield as the Lions beat Juve Pro Soccer 1-0 in preseason action – but through his relentless pursuit of the ball and quick passing from the middle of the park.
“I just like to play with the ball a lot,” he explained. “I try to take a lot of accountability and be the center of the team and connect the defenders with the midfielders.”
It is a role coach Bustamante is eager for Charlie to maintain.
“As one of our older players, we look for him to carry our play and move players with the ball and without the ball,” he said. “He’s one of the guys that can lead us and make us look more professional.”
Every change of team, or continent in Charlie’s case, brings challenges and the switch from growing up playing soccer in southern Africa to making his mark in the United States has required some adjustments.
“The main difference is that here, it’s more physical,” said Charlie. “That’s one of the things I have to get used to that I struggled with at first. I still have to be physical because there’s a lot I can do with the ball, but the game is a little bit faster and there are bigger guys.
“A lot of the Boston City guys are technical players too, so that’s why I came here. We might be a small team in size, but I think we have a good mix of technical players.”
Charlie and Boston City FC kick off the new NPSL season this Saturday, away to Hartford City FC at 7pm at the University of Hartford.