Ben Sweat: “I couldn’t have landed at a more perfect place.” (Photo courtesy of NYC FC)

By Michael Lewis

Front Row Soccer Editor

New York City FC bolstered its defensive depth Thursday morning, signing defender Ben Sweat.

Sweat, 25, impressed head coach Patrick Vieira and his staff enough during the team’s preseason in Florida, Ecuador and Arizona. He is with the Blues at the Desert Diamond Cup in Tucson, Ariz.

“Ben gives us more depth at the back,” Vieira said in a statement. “He can play as a left-back or as a left-sided center back. To have Ben in the squad also gives me a good option if we want to play three at the back as he can play on the left-hand side or as one of the three.”

Vieira liked the former University of South Florida defender’s aggressiveness.

“What is really interesting about him is that he’s really comfortable on the ball and he’s very aggressive when he’s defending,” he said. “Ben also has a really good spirit, he’s working really hard and he’s a fighter – he will compete for a spot in the team and he will bring a lot of challenges to the other players in his position.”

The 6-2, 178-lb. Sweat was selected as the 14th overall pick by the Columbus Crew in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft. He was sent on loan to the Dayton Dutch Lions, the Crew’s United Soccer League affiliate and eventually signed with the Tampa Bay Rowdies (then in the North American Soccer League) in 2015.

“Watching from afar, from the moment NYC FC joined the league I knew that this one of the best clubs out there to come to as a professional – I couldn’t have landed at a more perfect place,” Sweat said in a statement. “I was happy just to come here on trial to try and make a good, positive impression and so to sign a contract here is a dream come true for me.”

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at