Jones arrives from Tennessee’s Lipscomb University, where the 20-year-old attacker scored 12 goals and added 15 assists across 35 college soccer appearances spanning two seasons. In addition to Jones, Lipscomb University also produced the No. 1 overall pick in this most recent SuperDraft, forward Tyrese Spicer.
Jones is the first top-10 SuperDraft pick NYCFC have made since 2017 when they took Jonathan Lewis with the No. 3 overall pick. Kevin O’Toole stands out as the club’s most recent successful SuperDraft addition, and Jones will look to replicate his path to a NYCFC first-team role.
In the official statement announcing Jones’s contract, NYCFC sporting director David Lee said “When we drafted Malachi, we were unsure if he would be willing to leave school to pursue a professional career, but we believed that he was one of the most talented players in the MLS SuperDraft,” and that the club are “delighted” he ultimately decided to leave school and turn pro.
Eligibility for the MLS SuperDraft was expanded for this latest installment that brought NYCFC and Jones together. College sophomores and above were eligible for this SuperDraft, whereas previously, only college seniors and above, along with a few select underclassmen “Generation adidas” signings, were available for selection.
Once Jones was announced as part of the NYCFC preseason roster, he looked more likely to be signing either with the first-team or with NYCFC II in MLS NEXT Pro. Today brings word that Jones arrives on a MLS contract through the 2025 season, with additional contract options potentially keeping Jones with NYCFC through 2027.
Jones has a unique backstory, as he was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and was adopted alongside seven siblings from an orphanage and moved to Thompson’s Station, Tenn., where he grew up. He won a number of accolades as a young player in Tennessee and now will look to make the jump from college to MLS.
As a player, Jones is described as a quick, direct winger who excels in 1v1s, and his stats from college also seem to show some playmaker tendencies, given his 15 assists. Jones looks set to wear the No. 88 jersey, as the photo at the top of this post indicates, which brings back memories of another NYCFC attacking No. 88 from the team’s earliest seasons.
Malachi Jones looks like another promising young attacking player joining the NYCFC fold. It remains unclear where Jones will fit on the NYCFC attacking depth chart, and maybe that will get clarified over the remainder of preseason, but it’s now clear that Jones is a part of the New York City first-team.