Metros win Nelson Akwari in the lottery; Sheppard waived
August 12, 2002 (Official Press Release)

Nelson Akwari, one of the most recognized U.S. Youth National Team defenders in recent years, has joined MLS and Nike Project-40, it was announced today by MLS Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Todd Durbin. Akwari will join the MetroStars, who selected the defensive standout in a weighted lottery draft.

"It's late in the MLS season but I think it was a good opportunity for me to sign now," said the 20-year-old Akwari. "Teams know what they need right now and as the games get bigger and more important it's an opportunity for me to step in and play in high-intensity games."

The Houston native and U.S. Under-23 defender is the latest player to join MLS from the vaunted 1999 Under-17 team that finished fourth at the Under-17 World Youth Championship. The Eastern Conference leaders made room on their developmental roster (maximum four players) today by waiving Rutgers midfielder Dustin Sheppard, who had recently joined the team as a developmental player on July 19. Akwari is scheduled to leave Texas Monday afternoon and join his good friend and ex-Under-20 teammate Brad Davis and the rest of the MetroStars for practice on Tuesday.

"They're a great team," said Akwari about the Eastern Conference leaders. "They have great players and I can learn a lot from the players who are there. I'm hoping to adjust to my new teammates and hopefully be able to battle for a position."

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