• Bill Caine, Woodford Sun Sports Editor

Former Midway University student-athlete lands gig with MLS team

CHRISTIAN NEIRA, a former student athlete at Midway University is now a goalkeeper coach for Orlando City of Major League Soccer. Neira was an All-American for the Eagles in 2017. (Midway University Athletics photo)

Midway University graduate Christian Neira has been hired as goalkeeper coach for Orlando City Football Club of Major League Soccer. The 2017 graduate came to the United States in 2014 from Santiago, Chile. Playing since age 4, the dream of being a part of professional soccer drove Neira to be a hard worker and a great student in the classroom and on the pitch he said. ."Christian was absolutely one of the best goalkeepers I have ever been around and off the field a superb student," said Midway soccer Coach Tim Wolz. "There were 11 United Soccer Coaches Academic All Americans Awarded last season and we had three of them. Christian was one of them. He was extremely popular on campus with the instructors, staff and students. He is just one of those kids that you know will be successful in life. " Playing for the under 17 Chilean National Team, Neira was recruited by Talladega College in Alabama and played collegiately for the Tornadoes for two seasons before transferring to Midway University. At Midway, Neira thrived on the pitch and was named an All-American, All-Conference and won many scholastic awards. As a major in business administration with a minor in sports management, the goal was to work in athletics all along, Neira said. “Being a student-athlete at Midway University allowed me to learn so much about American culture,” said Neira. “At Talladega, I was so busy that I did not have much time to acclimate to the culture, but Midway opened my eyes and taught me so much. I feel my time with Midway gave me the tools and knowledge to take on new challenges in the soccer world.” "Christian was a real leader among our student body and a fantastic ambassador for Midway University," said Midway University Athletic Director Rusty Kennedy. In July, Neira moved to Orlando to begin his new career with Orlando City. He also took on a job of being the goalkeeper coach at Mountverde Academy as well as being their social media coordinator. “I'd like to continue learning about the professional soccer business and further my advancement when the opportunity arises,” said Neira. “Right now I am having fun with my new experiences, meeting new people, and getting familiar with a new city and life."

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