After a short stint in Major League Soccer, Nazmi Albadawi is returning to his roots in the Tar Heel State.
MLS side FC Cincinnati announced Wednesday it is loaning Albadawi to his former club, USL Championship side North Carolina FC, for the remainder of the 2019 season. But the Raleigh, N.C., native will be back in a red-and-blue kit for longer than just this season. NCFC announced it signed Albadawi to a deal for the 2020 season as well.
“I’m so happy to be able to come home and play NCFC again,” Albadawi said in a statement released by the club. “It’s a club that has a very special place in my heart and I can’t wait to get started with Dave (Sarachan) and the rest of the staff and players. It’ll be nice to see some familiar faces both on and off the field.”
Albadawi, 27, is a 5-foot-11 midfielder who was born in Raleigh and grew up in the Research Triangle, playing youth soccer with Triangle United and Capital Area Soccer League, the latter of which is now part of NCFC’s academy. He went on to play at N.C. State University, scoring 17 goals in 45 appearances.
In 2013, Albadawi began his pro career with NCFC’s U-23 side, and soon after joined the first team, which was then competing in NASL as the Carolina RailHawks. From 2014 through 2017, Albadawi appeared in 113 matches for North Carolina, tallying 21 goals and 19 assists across all contests.
Albadawi set the NASL single-season assist record in 2016 with 10 dimes, a season in which he also wore the captain’s armband for NCFC and was named to the league’s Best XI. He would also be the club’s captain in 2017.
There’s no place like home 🙌🏽🙌🏽❤️ https://t.co/6niVY0uYWZ
— Nazmi Albadawi (@NazmiAlbadawi) May 30, 2019
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring back Nazmi to our club for many reasons,” NCFC head coach Dave Sarachan said in a statement. “First and most importantly, he is a player with great ability and technical skill that will help our team on both sides of the ball. Equally important, he is a person of great character and possesses leadership skills that transcend beyond the playing field. Along with the fact that he is highly respected in this area and community, we feel we’ve added a tremendous all-around player and person that will help our team immediately.”
Albadawi joined FC Cincinnati in 2018, it’s final as a USL Championship side. He appeared in 31 matches across all contests, scoring 11 goals and assisting on four others, as the club made the USL conference semifinals. Albadawi remained with the club in its transition to MLS, but appeared in just one match, seeing nine minutes in a loss to the New York Red Bulls on May 25.
@NazmiAlbadawi when you left to follow your dreams we cheered you on and watched you make them real. Now that your back, we are thrilled to keep watching you make it happen. #Believers @NorthCarolinaFC
— Steve Malik (@stephenmalik) May 30, 2019
On the international level, Albadawi has been capped four times by the Palestine national team. He scored his lone goal for Palestine in 2018, in a friendly against Pakistan.
NCFC said in a statement that Albadawi will be available for selection on Saturday as the team plays at Hartford Athletic at 7 p.m. ET. Albadawi will wear No. 21.
Separate from the Albadawi transaction, Cincinnati recalled midfielder Tommy McCabe from his loan at North Carolina. McCabe, the 29th overall pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft, appeared in 10 games with NCFC, scoring twice.
— Greg Moore (@Sir__Greg) May 30, 2019