It’s was a strong undefeated preseason run for the Oakland Roots. In the limited amount of peaks at the club, newcomer Charlie Dennis has been showing off his ability to land free kicks, take shots from distance, and position himself in space. He’s ready for a big USL Championship debut after scoring three this preseason.
He bagged a shot from around 25 yards in the club’s 1-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes’ MLS Next squad on February 16, scored in February 20’s 3-2 victory over USLC foe FC Tulsa when slotting in a pass through traffic by Chuy Enriquez for a right-footed goal. He also nearly sent in a left-footed shot on the edge of the area earlier on versus Tulsa.
Dennis, 26, comes to Roots SC after spending 2020-2021 with FC Tucson of the USL League One. He made 42 appearances with Tucson, scoring 10 goals and 14 assists during his time there. He scored all 10 goals last season to go along with eight assists, earning second-team All-USL League One in the process.
“Last year was a good one, collectively and personally. I just want to build on my performances really and hopefully play the same way that I was at Tucson here in Oakland. If I do, I think I can help the team a lot,” said Dennis. “Hopefully I can build on last year and take it into this year. It’s still early, so I’ve got to get to know the players around me and build a relationship with the other attacking players. As a #10 it’s your job to get goals and assists. I want to play with the same confidence as I had last year and hopefully that can shine through.”
Dennis built a highlight reel of landing free kicks, consistency in penalties, taking shots from distance, and being a possessive presence in link-up play. A native Brighton, Dennis began his career with Southampton’s youth academy from 2005-2012 before heading to the states for college in 2014 with Shorter University in Georgia and later to Palm Beach Atlantic University.
Now measured around 6 feet, 2 inches, Dennis describes that his style is more comparable to smaller-sized players. He recalled how his days at Southampton crafted his playing style.
“You touched on a couple of things there, I think I’m quite a unique player. When I was younger, I was always pretty small and part of the reason I was released from Southampton was because I didn’t have the physicality. But when I started to grow, I started to work in the gym, got a growth spurt and got a lot bigger, but I continued playing like how a smaller-creative player would; you don’t really find that these days. I think I can bring a lot to the team, hopefully score some goals and get some assists,” said Dennis.
Dennis didn’t have the most traditional of routes to the professional level as most from England when making his way to Palm Beach Atlantic University on a scholarship. His path, hopefully, has lit a fire under the first-year USL Championship player.
“When I was in England, I didn’t two years of college football there, and I took a look at what I wanted to do with football; coming to America was one of those things I wanted to accomplished. I got a soccer scholarship, but the football wasn’t the highest level and I’ve been trying fight my way into the pro-game ever since I’ve been in this country. Everywhere I’ve been I’ve proved myself and just worked my way out,” said Dennis.
“Being at Southampton is one of the best setups you an be at in England, I saw players go onto the Premier League. I was playing with players at the time who probably had more talent but due to circumstances on or off the field, it didn’t work out. Your path is defined in different ways, so you never know where you will end up. I sort of stuck it out and worked hard wherever I’ve been, you can only play what’s in front of you and if you do well people are going to look.”
Dennis’ unconventional route from England to Oakland has everyone in The Town hoping that Roots SC has found the next USL League One gem after OCSC landed 2021’s breakout performer, Ronaldo Damus.
“I want to bring that quality in the final third, that sets teams apart when they can take chances and have quality in front of goal. When you’re helping your teammates for chances and creating quality, you’re helping win games… Playoffs are definitely the expectation, this club is a big club on the West Coast and are a big organization in the making. I think we should definitely be able to push into the playoffs. I also made the playoffs in Tucson, it’s knockout football that is really exciting to play in. It’s a different environment and challenge but I loved it,” said Dennis.