Sean Nealis was the CAA defensive player of the year with Hofstra. (Photo courtesy of Hofstra SID)
HARRISON, N.J. – The Red Bulls have signed 2019 MLS SuperDraft second-tound pick Sean Nealis to a Major League Soccer contract, the club announced Sunday.
A center back, Nealis became the sixth player from New York on the Red Bulls first-team roster this year.
“We are pleased to welcome Sean to the first team,” Red Bulls sporting director Denis Hamlett said. “When we drafted Sean we knew we were getting a quality player, but throughout preseason camp he has displayed qualities the we look for on and off the field.”
The 6-4 Nealis was named the 2018 Colonial Athletic Association defensive player of the year. He was Hofstra’s team captain in 2018 and started 69 matches over four seasons. Nealis became the first draft pick of the Red Bulls’ 2019 draft class to earn a contract.
“Sean has come into camp and earned this contract,” Red Bulls head coach Chris Armas said. “He has grasped the defensive tactics quickly, is athletic, and has many of the qualities we look for in center backs. Sean has a great attitude and we look forward to working with him to help him develop.”
Alongside a strong career on the field, Nealis was named to the 2018 United Soccer Coaches Scholar All-America first team, becoming just the fourth Hofstra men’s soccer student-athlete in program history to earn the recognition.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to get the chance to play for the New York Red Bulls,” Nealis said. “The coaching staff has been exemplary at helping me come along, and I am looking forward to growing as a player for this organization.”
Nealis’ brother Jim, a Georgetown University graduate, has played for the Cosmos and Long Island Rough Riders.
The brothers hail from Massapequa, N.Y.
“I could not be happier for Sean as he embarks on his professional career,” Hofstra men’s coach Richard Nuttall said. “He is a special player and he deserves everything he achieves. I look forward to following his progress with the Red Bulls.”