With one transaction Thursday, the New York Red Bulls doubled the club’s number of Long Island natives, former New York state boys soccer champions, Massapequa graduates and, of course, Nealis brothers.
The Red Bulls acquired Dylan Nealis in a deal with Nashville SC, adding the 23-year-old to a defensive group featuring his older brother, Sean. The Red Bulls sent Nashville $125,000 in general allocation money, with an additional $75,000 tied to performance conditions.
The acquisition will give the Red Bulls another option at right back following the departure of Brooklyn native Kyle Duncan to KV Oostende in Belgium, plus the end of Tom Edwards’ loan from Stoke City.
"I am pleased to see the addition of Dylan to our team," said Red Bulls coach Gerhard Struber in a news release. "His ability to get forward into the attack and create for his team will be helpful. He also understands the defensive side, takes pride in his defending and shutting down attacking players."
Dylan Nealis heads closer to home for his third season in Major League Soccer. He debuted with Inter Miami in 2020 after being selected as the No. 3 pick in the MLS SuperDraft out of Georgetown. Nealis started 10 matches and made 19 appearances for Miami before joining Nashville in a trade last April, where he saw the field in just four matches in 2021, making two starts.
At Georgetown, Nealis was a finalist for the 2019 MAC Herrmann Trophy for college soccer’s best player. He captained that year’s squad to the school’s first NCAA men’s soccer title, winning the tournament’s Defensive Most Outstanding Player honor.
His name precedes him with the Red Bulls, where Sean became an invaluable asset at centerback in his third season with the club. The 24-year-old Hofstra alum emerged in the absence of injured Aaron Long and showed versatility and consistency in defense, starting 28 matches and earning a new three-year contract in Struber's first full year.
The brothers team up professionally for the first time, but their playing history goes beyond family kickarounds.
Each played a key role in Massapequa’s run to a Class AA boys soccer state championship in 2013, when Dylan was a sophomore and Sean a junior. Dylan played hero in the the state semifinal and final with winning goals in both matches, including a 58th-minute direct kick goal to beat Fairport for the championship.