Gedion Zelalum, Walter Johnson HS/North Bethesda MS Alumnus, Wins MLS Cup with NYCFC

by MCS Staff

Back in March, NYCFC re-signed midfielder Gedion Zelalem. Today, the club won the MLS Cup– defeating Portland 4-2 in penalty kicks.

Zelalem played in 7 games this season, starting one, helping New York City to the Cup.

He was born in Berlin, Germany to Ethiopian parents, but moved to United States in 2006, a year after the death of his mother.

He played with several teams while growing up in Bethesda, including Bethesda Soccer Club, Olney Rangers, and varsity soccer at Walter Johnson.

Zelalem, 24, spent 2020 with NYCFC though only made one MLS appearance during the campaign, which came as a 14-minute cameo off the bench at the MLS is Back Tournament.

The former wunderkind, who has dealt with knee injuries the last few years, signed with Sporting KC in 2019 and made nine appearances that season.

“We’re happy to welcome back Gedion for another season,” sporting director David Lee said in a club statement when Zelalem was re-signed prior to the season. “He was showing glimpses of the potential he has last year before his injury and we’re excited to see him back on the field in 2021.”

The former US youth international is still hoping to kick his professional career into second gear, after injuries derailed his trajectory. Joining Arsenal’s academy at age 16, Zelalem earned his first team debut before long. To help aid his development, he was sent on loan to Scottish powerhouse Rangers and Dutch outfit VVV-Venlo.

A serious knee injury suffered in US duty during the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in South Korea sidetracked his progress, however, and never quite recaptured his momentum. He was still at Arsenal before joining SKC in 2019.


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