NEW YORK — New York City FC Saturday signed former midfielder Sporting Kansas City central midfielder Gedion Zelalem.

Zelalem, 22, played for the MLS club in 2019 and for its USL Championship team, Swope Park Rangers.

The one-time Germany and United States youth international has also played for Arsenal FC, Rangers FC and VVV-Venlo in his career.

“I’m really excited to be joining New York City FC,” Zelalem said. “The club has established a culture and style of play that I’m really looking forward to being a part of. I know they had a great season last year and the team will only go upwards from there. It’s also a great city to live in, but mostly I’m ready to win a lot of soccer matches in 2020.”

In 2013, Zelalem joined Arsenal as a 16-year-old and spent six seasons with the Premier League club. Zelalem made his debut in 2014 during a FA Cup victory over Coventry City. He made four appearances for Arsenal’s first team, including as a substitute in a UEFA Champions League match against Galatasaray.

Rangers acquired Zelalem on-loan from Arsenal in 2015. He played 28 matches and had eight assists, helping the Scottish club win promotion back to the Scottish Premiership.

The 5-11, 163-lb. Zelalem was loaned to Dutch side VVV-Venlo in January 2017, where he played nine times and won silverware as VVV finished in first place in the 2016-2017 Eerste Divisie.

“Gedion is a very versatile midfielder who can play across multiple positions,” NYCFC head coach Ronny Deila said. “He’s a creative player and possesses very good technique on the ball which is vital for a midfielder in our system. He’s eager to begin this preseason and we’re ready for him to get into camp and show off who he is as a player.”

Born in Berlin, Germany, Zelalem moved to the United States and settled in the Washington D.C area. He played for the Olney Rangers under the tutelage of NYCFC Under-19 head coach Matt Pilkington.

“We’re really excited that Gedion is joining us ahead of the 2020 season,” NYCFC sporting director David Lee said. “Even though he’s still in the early portion of his career, he’s gained really valuable experience at multiple clubs across a few different leagues. He’s also represented the U.S. youth national team in two World Cups and we think we’ve identified a very talented player who can come in and develop with us and improve our squad.”

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