CHICAGO — Arguably the best male soccer player to come through Medina County, John Nelson added to his resume Friday afternoon when FC Dallas selected the 2017 Medina graduate with the No. 10 pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft in Chicago.
The University of North Carolina defender became the first county player drafted by the MLS.
“It means so much,” Nelson said. “Obviously, Medina has given me so much over the years, and I have always repped it. I’ve always thanked Medina for everything they’ve done.
“Being the first person from there, hopefully that inspires the young kids.
“It doesn’t matter where you come from. How small or how big your town is, if you really work hard and have a dream, you just go get after it. That’s what I did and that’s what I followed along. I have to thank Medina so much for their support over the years. I’m super excited to rep Medina.”
The 20-year old is ecstatic to join an organization rich in tradition.
Dallas went 16-9-9 last season and made it to the knockout round before being eliminated by eventual runner-up Portland Timbers.
A playoff qualifier in four of the last five seasons, FC Dallas was the 2010 MLS Cup runner-up. The club has had only two losing seasons over the last nine years.
“I was nervous and excited to see where I was going to go,” Nelson said.
“FC Dallas called my name, and I was super excited because I know FC Dallas is a great club and a great club for young kids. “They’re a very established, a good team. They just got a new coach (Luchi Gonzalez).
“There’s a lot of youth kids I know from the U.S. National Team. They play their kids. They believe in their kids, so it’s going to be a great culture for me.”
Dallas, which took UNC-Charlotte defender Callum Montgomery with the fourth pick, grabbed Nelson at No. 10 thanks to a Dec. 9 trade with the Montreal Impact.
The Impact picked up forward Max Urruti in exchange for the pick and $75,000 in targeted allocation money.
“That means so much,” Nelson said. “They believe in you. They want you to succeed.
“They’re very excited to get me down there in Dallas. It’s a good feeling when a team wants you.”
Nelson likely will start the season behind Marcos Pedroso and Ryan Hollingshead on the depth chart. That could put him on loan with North Texas SC of the United Soccer League.
“We haven’t talked about it yet, but if USL is an option where I can be playing regularly that obviously is a good start for young kids,” Nelson said. “I’ll just hopefully make my way up from there.
“If I do play left back, which hopefully I do with FC Dallas, it’s a position where I have to be a complete player where I get up the field and help my team in the attack, keep the ball out of net and be that box to box player.”
Nelson started in all 41 games during two seasons at North Carolina and helped the Tar Heels win back-to-back ACC Coastal Division titles. The school also made a College Cup appearance in 2017.
Ranked the No. 1 player in the 2017 class by College Soccer News, Nelson was a two-time NSCAA Youth Boys All-American. He did not compete for Medina High.
Nelson chose to forego his final two collegiate seasons after signing a contract with Generation Adidas.
A former U-17 World Cup and USMNT U19 player, Nelson was named to the All-Athletic Coast Conference freshmen team in 2017 and was second-team All-ACC last season.
His next step is to spend time with family and friends before reporting to training camp on Jan. 20.
The MLS season kicks off March 2.