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NYCFC loses defender Ben Sweat to Inter Miami CF in 2019 MLS Expansion Draft

Ben Sweat of New York City FC heads

Ben Sweat of New York City FC heads the ball away from Chris Pontius of the Philadelphia Union during an MLS game at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, June 3, 2017.  Credit: Steven Ryan

After three seasons, Ben Sweat’s time with New York City FC is over.

The defender was selected by Inter Miami CF with the No. 1 pick in the 2019 MLS Expansion Draft on Tuesday. NYCFC will receive $50,000 in General Allocation Money for the selection.

Sweat, a Florida native, heads to his home state after making 72 league appearances and recording one goal with nine assists for NYCFC during his tenure. A 2014 MLS Superdraft selection by Columbus Crew SC, Sweat joined NYCFC from the second-division Tampa Bay Rowdies in February 2017, soon becoming a feature in the starting lineup during a breakout season.

Sweat was the club’s first-choice left back for much of his first two seasons with the club, making 49 starts in 54 appearances. His role diminished in 2019 as City favored a back three with Ronald Matarrita at left wing back for a large chunk of the year, giving Sweat just 13 starts in 18 games between left back and centerback. He did not appear in NYCFC’s Eastern Conference semifinal loss to Toronto FC to close the 2019 season.

Under the expansion draft's rules, NYCFC was able to protect up to 12 players on their roster with certain exceptions for homegrown and other young players under 25. Sweat was one of 13 players left unprotected, a group that included designated player Jesus Medina and international signing Gary Mackay-Steven. With Sweat’s selection, NYCFC’s remaining unprotected players were removed from the draft.

The 28-year-old Sweat will be part of the inaugural roster for Inter Miami, one of two expansion clubs participating in Tuesday’s draft along with Nashville SC. Inter Miami is part-owned by former soccer superstar David Beckham, who negotiated the right to eventually own his own MLS expansion team for a discounted franchise fee when he joined the L.A. Galaxy in 2007.

Miami also selected Alvas Powell from FC Cincinnati, midfielder Lee Nguyen from LAFC, midfielder Luis Argudo from Columbus Crew SC and goalkeeper Bryan Meredith from the Seattle Sounders.

Nashville SC selected forward Abu Daniadi from Minnesota United FC, defender Zarek Valentin of the Portland Timbers (Valentin was traded to Houston in exchange for $75,000 in Targeted Allocation Money in 2021 and goalie Joe Willis), defender Jalil Anibaba from the New England Revolution, forward Brandon Vazquez from Atlanta United FC (Vazquez was traded to FC Cincinnati for $150,000 in Targeted Allocation Money in 2020 and $50,000 in General Allocation Money for 2021) and left back/midfielder Jimmy Medranda from Sporting Kansas City.

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