Nashville won’t be a Major League Soccer city until at least 2020, but on Thursday the city’s United Soccer League Championship side announced the signing of a forward with MLS experience.
Nashville SC signed Kharlton Belmar to a contract for the 2019 season, pending league and federation approval. Belmar, 26, played in both USL and MLS in 2018, seeing playing time with the Swope Park Rangers and Sporting Kansas City.
Over his last four seasons as a professional, the Virginia Beach, Va., native scored 40 goals in USL, the 12th most in league history.
“Kharlton’s pace and power has given many defenses sleepless nights,” Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith said in a statement. “He’s not only a good creator but also a top finisher. He’s a fantastic and exciting addition to the team.”
In 2018, Belmar scored eight goals in the first eight matches he played in with the Swope Park Rangers. He was then called up to the Rangers’ parent MLS club, Sporting KC, and tallied one goal and one assist in five appearances. He finished the season with the Rangers with 10 goals and six assists in 20 appearances.
“Kharlton’s combination of outstanding athleticism and relentless mentality make him a threat to get behind opposing defenses,” Nashville SC VP of soccer operations and technical director Mike Jacobs said in a statement. “He has demonstrated throughout his career the ability to create and finish scoring chances, and we know that he will bring an added dimension to our club.”
Belmar came up in a youth academy based in Virginia Beach called “Virginia Rush.” He then played college soccer at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he scored 18 goals in 76 appearances.
In the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, Belmar was selected in the second round by the Portland Timbers. He never appeared with the first team, but scored 22 goals in appearances with the Timbers U-23 team and its’ USL club, Portland Timbers 2. He was named USL Rookie of the Year after the 2015 season for his play with Timbers 2.
In 2017, Belmar scored 15 goals in 28 appearances for the Swope Park Rangers and helped lead the team to the USL Cup Final. In that season with the Rangers, he played with current Nashville SC players Lebo Moloto and Liam Doyle.
With Belmar, Daniel Rios, Ken Tribbett and Darnell King, Nashville SC has a strong offensive unit heading into 2019, as those players combined for 39 USL goals last season.
— Nashville SC (@NashvilleSC) December 13, 2018