Charlotte FC's first-ever home game brought together a record crowd, but it also reunited two Major League Soccer players sharing a special bond.
LA Galaxy midfielder Sacha Kljestan and Charlotte rookie Chris Hegardt swapped jerseys after LA Galaxy's 1-0 win over Charlotte at Bank of America Stadium, 12 years after Klijestan visited Hegardt at a Los Angeles children's hospital.
My wife and I visited this young man back in 2010 at Children's Hospital LA. Today I ran into his parents in our hotel lobby in Charlotte. His name is Chris Hegardt and he's a rookie midfielder for @CharlotteFC. I gave him a jersey once, hopefully he will give me his tomorrow! pic.twitter.com/NhXiVIAGzp— Sacha Kljestan (@SachaKljestan) March 4, 2022
Kljestan, a Chivas USA player in 2010, gave Hegardt, then a eight-year-old patient, a United States men's national team jersey. Now 20, Hegardt is with expansion team Charlotte after being drafted from Georgetown.
Saturday's game also saw Charlotte break the Major League Soccer attendance record, after a crowd of 74,479 was announced.
That number beat the previous MLS record of 73,019, set by Atlanta United when they hosted the 2018 MLS Cup at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Atlanta also previously held the regular season attendance record of 72,548, set in 2019.