Rough Riders to MLS Stars

Over the years, Long Island Rough Riders players have gone on to perform and excel in Major League Soccer.

Here are some updates on four former Riders players who are playing in the league and MLS NEXT Pro – Jeorgio Kocevski, Sean Nealis, Jayden Reid, and Sean Zawadzki.

Jeorgio Kocevski, Orlando City SC

On Feb. 20, Orlando City SC announced that it had signed the midfielder to a first-team contract through this season, with club options in 2025, 2026, and 2027. The Lions selected the Syracuse University product with the 21st overall pick in the 2024 MLS SuperDraft.

“Jeorgio has had a really strong preseason camp with us, demonstrating everything we saw in him when we were scouting him and analyzing his game in college,” Orlando City SC EVP of soccer operations and general manager Luiz Muzzi said in a statement. “He’s done well working his way into the group, even starting in our friendly against Flamengo and holding his own against some of the best in Brazil, and we’re excited to have him with us this season.”

In his four years at SU, the 22-year-old Kocevski played in 71 games and recorded seven goals and 18 assists. As a senior, he was named the Atlantic Coast Conference co-midfielder of the year, becoming the first Orangeman to win the award. Appearing in 20 matches as team captain, he scored one goal and recorded 12 assists last fall. Those dozen assists were the most by a senior in the program’s history and the third-most in a season. In 2022, Kocevski played an important role in the midfield, helping SU become the NCAA Division I national champions. The Orange were also ACC tournament champions and won the ACC Atlantic Division regular season title.

Sean Nealis, New York Red Bulls

The Red Bull captain in 2023, the Massapequa, N.Y. native was named vice captain by new head coach Sandro Schwarz. Schwarz named newly acquired Emil Forsberg as the captain for the 2024 campaign. Coaches often have the discretion of naming the team captain.

Still, the 6-4, 174-lb. Nealis was one of the more consistent performers for the Red Bulls last season, meeting with the media after many games, including some tough losses.

Nealis, a 27-year-old defender, is looking forward to the season as he has worked with the younger players of the squad.

“I think it helps you learn a little more if you go in teaching and helping the younger guys,” he said. “It helps create a stronger bond on the field and off the field, and I think having a lot of younger guys, it keeps you hungry, keeps you motivated. It’s a cool experience that we have here at Red Bull and a great group of guys, so we’re very excited for this season going forward.”

Jayden Reid

An Elmont, N.Y. native, Reid joined St. Louis CITY2 of MLS NEXT Pro earlier this season, after playing with the Red Bulls for two MLS seasons.

The 22-year-old defender signed a Homegrown contract with the Red Bulls in 2022, joining the first team after five seasons in the club’s Academy during his youth career. Reid made one appearance for the Red Bulls in 2023, making his MLS debut on May 17 in a scoreless draw with Toronto FC.

Reid spent most of the 2023 season with the Red Bulls II, starting in 15 of 21 MLS NEXT Pro matches while registering one assist.

At the University of Connecticut (2019-22), he started in 34 of 51 appearances. With the Huskies, Reid registered three goals and seven assists, highlighted by a stellar junior season in which he tallied three goals and five assists.

Sean Zawadzki

Zawadzki received a pleasant surprise in January. Not only was he called up to the U.S. Men’s National Team, but he also made his international debut as well.

The 23-year-old midfielder started and played the entire 90 minutes in a 1-0 defeat to Slovenia in San Antonio, Texas, on Jan. 20.

After scoring twice in 10 appearances for the Rough Riders in 2019, the 6-foot, 159-lb. Zawadzki completed a memorable four years at Georgetown University. He captained the Hoyas for two years, including their run to the 2019 NCAA Division I crown.

He has played 35 times for the defending MLS Cup champion Columbus Crew as a Homegrown player signing, scoring four goals. He also made 19 appearances with Columbus Crew 2 in MLS NEXT Pro the last two years, finding the net once.


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