Orange County SC continued to add to their 2018 roster in preseason, announcing on Wednesday the signing of center back Thomas Juel-Nielsen.
“Thomas is another example of the quality player that we have worked hard to profile to represent our club. He has played at a high level in Europe and will bring an immense amount of experience & intelligence to our back line,” said Orange County SC head coach Braeden Cloutier in a team statement. “He is a very athletic defender with the speed and pace to deal with the type of forwards we face in the USL and also the ability to dominate in the air. More importantly Thomas is a fantastic professional that will provide a great example to our younger players with his attitude, commitment and discipline.”
Juel-Nielsen began his career at Hvidovre IF in 2009. The next year, he moved to fellow Danish club AB, and then heading over to Norway to play for Sandefjord in 2013. In 2016, he moved to Sweden to play for first-division side Falkenbergs, but the team was relegated at the end of the season. Last year, Juel-Nielsen returned to Denmark to play for AGF, helping the team avoid relegation.
Juel-Nielsen was out of contract for several months, after signing with Israeli club Maccabi Netanya in the summer but appeared to instantly have a change of heart, and was at one point a transfer target for English side Portsmouth in the interim.
The defender, who also played for the Denmark U-17 national team as a youth, is the second Dane to be signed by the club in recent days, joining forward/winger Thomas Enevoldsen.
Given his experience, provided he settles into life in Southern California, expect Juel-Nielsen to play a big role for Orange County in 2018. If these import signings work out, that should help make them competitive in a very crowded USL Western Conference.
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