Like many youth players, Nico Benalcazar grew up dreaming of becoming a professional. The hope followed him while playing youth soccer in Stamford, Conn., and then as he progressed through the ranks at Beachside SC, a top youth club in New England.
But when the New York City FC academy began in 2015, that dream became increasingly possible. The Wilton, Conn., native joined the Major League Soccer side’s youth outfit as a U-14 player. He since has parlayed that decision into captaining their U-19 team, committing to Division 1 powerhouse Wake Forest, and earning a slew of U.S. youth national team call-ups.
The 16-year-old found a new home, one that’s made earning a Homegrown Player contract a realistic talking point.