Michael Nelson has realized his dream of playing professional soccer and he is doing it in the soccer hotbed of the Pacific Northwest. Yes, it is far from his past successes at Old Dominion University and Virginia Beach City FC and even his hometown of Austin, Texas. But Nelson is living a dream with Seattle Sounders FC 2 and he has high hopes for the future.
“My short-term goal is to reach the first team. I have aspirations to reach the MLS level, getting minutes and becoming a consistent starter.”
Nelson got his start in MLS thanks to being drafted by the Seattle Sounders in the fourth round of the MLS SuperDraft earlier this year. He would join his college teammate, roommate, and fellow VB City FC standout Sidney Rivera in the pros. Rivera would spend 2015 with a number of teams, including Orlando City (MLS), Louisville City FC (USL), and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL). Rivera now plays with Puerto Rico Football Club in the NASL.
Nelson, on the other hand, would land with the Sounders’ USL squad, Sounders 2. He has enjoyed the experience.
“It’s been a great experience. I have been learning a lot. We get to be around the first team, use the same facilities, interact with the players, and learn from guys with lots of experience.”
Nelson’s goal is to be playing with the first team sooner rather than later and that is certainly a possibility considering his past successes. After spending a season with NC State, he would transfer to ODU. He would quickly become a star there, starting all but two game in his three-year career. He would be a stalwart on the backline, but still managed to record a goal and assist every season. He would also earn 1st team all-conference and all-region honors in 2015.
Nelson would not rest in the summer, knowing that playing in the NPSL would give him a boost in the collegiate game and give him an opportunity to move into the pro ranks. Michael played in every match in Virginia Beach’s inaugural season in 2014. He featured in both U.S. Open Cup matches in 2015 before suffering a severe ankle sprain, missing the remainder of that season.
His time at VB City FC was a great experience according to Nelson.
“We won a lot of games. It definitely benefitted my time at ODU. I was getting more minutes and more games. I was also playing against others with pro aspirations.”
He enjoyed working with the Virginia Beach staff, particularly head coach Brian Hinkey.
“He always had very high-level training sessions. He helped the players improve and had a great approach to the club.”
Hinkey had a lot of positive things to say about his former defensive standout.
“Michael was a big contributing factor to our initial success. His work rate was tremendous in both training and games, and he brought a positive mindset to our environment. Michael is a player that makes good decisions on and off the ball, defends well, and is physically strong. I am happy he is playing at the next level and getting his shot. He has earned it.”
No wonder that Nelson is excited to see his former club have so much success. He loved the way the club develop players from youth all the way up to the NPSL team, how they have brought players to MLS. He thinks that the trend of VBCFC alumni to the pros will continue.
Hinkey has similar thoughts on the subject.
“I’m excited that we’ve had MLS caliber players in our program. It’s a testament to what we are doing and we are excited to see our players have success. Our success is their success and it’s the fun of coaching. We want to push players on to higher levels and see them grow as people and as players.”
Nelson is a special player that is at home at center back or right back, doing whatever teams need to compete and win. He is a very aggressive and athletic player. He thinks that his best attribute is his commitment level, saying he is focused on making each tackle, minute, and game count. He certainly has done that at every step of his career.
That sure sounds like a great attitude for a player that is destined for greatness in the USL, MLS, and beyond.