ST. LOUIS (June 1, 2022) – St. Louis CITY SC has signed Swedish defender Joakim Nilsson to an MLS contract, pending his ITC, medical check, and work authorization. Nilsson is signed through 2026 and will join STL CITY SC in July 2022.
“We have managed to get another top player with tremendous quality and experience on our roster,” explained Lutz Pfannenstiel, St. Louis CITY Sporting Director. “Nilsson is the kind of defender any team would want, as he is a natural leader and possesses all the attributes to be successful in any league. He is assertive in 1v1 duels, good in the air and great at building out from the back. We are confident that all his experience and physical attributes will make him one of the best defenders in Major League Soccer.”
Nilsson spent most of his youth career with GIF Sundsvall’s. After impressing throughout the club’s youth ranks, Nilsson signed his first professional contract with GIF Sundvall and later made 30 appearances, scoring two goals for the club. Nilsson later signed with IF Elfsborg and amassed over 92 appearances during his three years with the club.
During his time with IF Elfsborg, Nilsson proved that he was one of the best defenders in the Swedish top division, and he certainly convinced Arminia Bielefeld who signed him to a three-year contract to play in the 2. Bundesliga league. Nilsson wasted no time showing his defensive acumen in Germany and played a major role in the club winning the 2. Bundesliga title and gaining promotion to the Bundesliga in 2020.
In his first year in the German topflight, he proved he was one of the league’s best defenders and provided a huge boost to Arminia Bielefeld’s defense as they battled to remain in the first division. He has made a total of 89 appearances for Arminia Bielefeld, scoring four goals for the club – two of which came in the final three games of the Bundesliga season, providing a glimmer of hope for his club as they battled to stay in the first division.
Nilsson has also represented his national team Sweden at various levels and has been called up frequently since making his senior debut in a 1-1 draw against Estonia on January 6, 2016. He has totaled over 29 appearances for his country, but barely missed out on this year’s World Cup tournament after narrowly falling in Sweden’s crucial playoff match against Czech Republic.
“After my first meeting with Lutz and Bradley, I was convinced that St. Louis CITY SC was the right destination to further my career,” said Nilsson. “I was impressed by their plan and vision for the long-term future of the club and how they see me as an important part of the team’s exciting sporting project. I want to say a huge thank you to Arminia Bielefeld for giving me the opportunity to play in the Bundesliga, which has been one of my biggest dreams since I was a child, and to the fans for welcoming my family and I with open arms. We can’t wait to call St. Louis our home and get to see the passionate soccer fans there.”
Nilsson will initially play on St Louis CITY2, the club’s MLS NEXT Pro team, before making his debut on STL CITY’s first team in 2023.
Name: Joakim Nilsson
Pronunciation: Yo-ah-kim KNEEL-son
DOB: February 6, 1994 (28)
Birthplace: Härnösand, Sweden
Height: 6’ 1”
Weight: 172 lbs
Last Club: Arminia Bielefeld