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The Daily Tar Heel

John Nelson, defender for UNC men's soccer, drafted in 2019 MLS SuperDraft


Sophomore midfielder John Nelson (5) dribbles down the line during the semifinals of the ACC Championship. UNC men's soccer beat Duke 2-1.

North Carolina men’s soccer sophomore defender John Nelson had his childhood dreams come true on Jan. 11 after FC Dallas drafted the young Tar Heel No. 10 overall during the 2019 MLS SuperDraft.

Since 2011, 10 UNC players have been picked in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft. The Tar Heels are tied with Akron and Maryland for the most first-round selections in the same time span, according to GoHeels writer Pat James. Under head coach Carlos Somoano’s time at UNC, 16 players have been drafted, eight taken in the first round. 

Nelson had a standout career during his two years as a Tar Heel. During his first season, the Medina, Ohio, native started all 22 games and scored his first collegiate goal during his first game against Providence.Nelson recorded one assist and finished third on the team in minutes played with 1,923. At the end of his first-year campaign, he was named to the All-ACC Freshman team.

As for his sophomore season, Nelson recorded two assists and played a big role on UNC's stalwart defense. He played all 19 games and was named a second team All-ACC selection. During his time on the team, the Tar Heels won two ACC Coastal Division titles and made one appearance in the NCAA Men's College Cup in 2017.

His standout performance led him to sign a deal with Generation Adidas on Jan. 4. 

As Nelson gave his speech at the MLS SuperDraft, you can hear cheering in the distance as he thanks his friends and family. A smile stretches across his face. 

“You guys being here today means so much to me,” Nelson said. “And to my family, thank you for everything. Thank you for your endless support. To my sisters that’ll never let me forget that I’m just a kid from Medina, Ohio. To my parents for never viewing the travel distance as an obstacle of coming to my games.” 

Nelson will join former Tar Heel and MLS Defender of the Year Matt Hedges in Dallas. Even with the new journey and move ahead, Nelson will still have his supporters next to him, reminding him that he’s just a kid from Medina. 


@DTHSports |

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