Midfielder Riley McGree has departed Birmingham City and returned to Charlotte FC following the expiration of his loan.
The seven-time Australia international was picked up by Charlotte in October 2020 after a successful period with Adelaide United in the A-League and was immediately loaned out to Birmingham.
McGree has remained at St Andrew’s ever since, grabbing three goals and two assists in 30 appearances across all competitions and proving a hit with Birmingham supporters.
There had been some hope McGree’s loan spell could be extended a little while longer, or that Charlotte could be tempted to sell the 23-year-old.
“All I can tell you is what I have said before, Craig [Gardner] has been banging that drum, trying to make that happen – that Riley stays,” Birmingham boss Lee Bowyer said earlier in December (via Birmingham Live).
“I know Riley loves it here, he loves training, you see him every day with a smile on his face, he is learning every day and improving as a player.”
But McGree clearly figures highly in CLTFC head coach Miguel Angel Ramirez’s plans and will now head to North Carolina in preparation for the club’s inaugural MLS campaign.
“It’s sadly come to an end, but it has been a bit of a whirlwind and a good adventure and one that I have good memories from,” McGree said of his time with Birmingham (via the club’s official website).
“England is where you want to come and play. To be able to get the opportunity in the Championship and to come to Birmingham, I took it and wanted to get here.”
Whereas McGree was one of just a handful of players under contract at Charlotte when he first signed, the Australian will arrive at Bank of America Stadium to a much more filled-out roster. CLTFC have been busy in recent weeks, adding a variety of players through trades while they also picked up some valuable MLS experience in the Expansion Draft, signing Anton Walkes from Atlanta United and Joseph Mora from DC United.
Charlotte kick off their first-ever MLS campaign away at DC United on Saturday 26 February before hosting the LA Galaxy early in March. There will be much more in the way of player arrivals to come before that time.