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[FM22] The Life & Career of a Third Choice Goalkeeper


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Imagine, for a moment, being third choice in life. It can’t feel good to be third choice at anything. You could be third choice wife or husband. Third choice groomsman. Third choice at the job you currently have. In an athletic contest, second place is horrible… never mind third.

Meet Johnny Player.

Johnny is a US college graduate with a Bachelor's degree in finance from Norfolk State University, originally born in Rancho Cucamonga and has returned to the Carolinas, signing a contract as a goalkeeper for new MLS side Charlotte FC.

Charlotte FC will be the 28th club in Major League Soccer and have been assigned to the Eastern Conference.


The only problem is, Johnny Player is destined to be the third-choice custodian for new Charlotte FC boss João Gonçalves Zarco. Very much styled in the form of a young Jose Mourinho, the maverick Portuguese manager was last seen taking unfancied K.V. Mechelen to a Second Division title and Belgian Cup in 2018/19 but saw his success fall victim of the 2017/19 Belgian football fraud scandal that preceded his time in the Antwerp province. Zarco is tasked with building a squad capable of challenging for the MLS Play-Offs in 2022.

In the meantime, however, there’s the small matter of the 2021 MLS season to negotiate through. Back in March, Johnny Player is found knocking on the gaffer’s door.

Player: “Hi, boss. Great to see you! Bit quiet at the training ground, isn’t it? I’ve just got changed but I’m the only one in the dressing room.”

Zarco: “Johnny… what exactly are you doing here?”

Player: “I signed the contract. Took me a few days to go over it all but I did it! I’m here to train, boss. Can’t wait to get started, do we have a nickname here yet? I’m thinking ‘The Infidels’. Maybe the ‘Kings of Queen City’!”

Zarco: “Why are you talking to Zarco like this? I am not your friend, I am not your confidant, nor your counsellor. I am your manager and you, Johnny, are supposed to be in Nevada. We loaned you to Las Vegas Lights for the season, remember? It was in the contract you’re so proud of signing.”

Player: “Oh, was it? My bad, boss. Still, we could do a quick training session before I head out. I don’t mind getting a sweat on.”

Zarco: “I’d love that, Johnny, I really would. As a defender myself in my playing days, nothing gives me greater pleasure than sticking an elbow on a goalkeeper, they didn’t call me ‘Butcher Zarco’ at Celtic for no reason, after all. Unfortunately, for you, I’m collecting some essential items for my temporary job in charge of the United States Under-20 team while we await the beginning of our MLS journey.”

Player: “Wow, congratulations, boss. I didn’t get the call for the Under-20’s myself but I was hopeful for a few years there that the phone would ring.”

Zarco: “This conversation is over. Zarco does not have time for your inane chatter. Get in your car, drive it to the airport, put a ticket on it for nine months and catch a flight to Las Vegas.”

Player: “Yes, boss. On my way, boss.”

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