New York City FC have signed forward Jonathan Jimenez and defenders Nicholas Benalcazar and Samuel Owusu to homegrown contracts with the intention of them competing for NYCFC II in MLS NEXT Pro in 2022, the club announced Wednesday.
Connecticut natives Benalcazar (Wake Forest) and Jimenez (North Carolina) both previously featured in the highly-regarded ACC in college soccer. Owusu is originally from Ghana and joined NYCFC in the fall of 2016.
“We are really excited to welcome back Nico, JJ and Kwaku to the club and sign them to homegrown contracts,” sporting director David Lee said in a release. “While we intend for them to play a significant role for our newly-created NYCFC II team, this gives us the flexibility for them to be available on our MLS roster as well.
“Over the years we have seen them grow and develop, and all display the professionalism both on-and-off the pitch which we believe gives them the best opportunity to continue to improve. They have already been important players for our academy and played pivotal roles in the Development Academy national championships.”
Benalcazar was named NYCFC’s 2018 Academy Player of the Year. All three played key roles on title-winning sides in the old U.S. Soccer Development Academy.
In recent years, NYCFC’s youth system has produced US men’s national team players like Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach) and James Sands (Rangers). Sands, a key member of their MLS Cup 2021-winning team, is on loan, while Scally moved to Germany’s Bundesliga via transfer. Reyna departed on a free move.