Fjeldberg, a native of Norway, had come to Dayton hoping to re-ignite his love of the game after his career seemed to have stalled out with his club team, Ullensaker/Kisa. He had 17 caps for Norway’s youth national team at the U-16, U-17, U-18 and U-19 levels, but had come to a point where he needed to decide whether he was going to stay on a path to pro soccer or continue schooling.
When a Dayton assistant randomly reached out on Facebook after stumbling upon video of him, Fjeldberg realized a path existed in the U.S. where he could do both.
“I was feeling a little stuck in Norway, like my career was not going anywhere, so I felt a change of scenery and pace and what college soccer is about would spark my love of soccer again and it did,” Fjeldberg said. “I knew the draft would be a possibility. My first priority was work hard and get my love back, but that was always the end goal.”
The 22-year-old said he is grateful to UD for offering him that chance, noting the atmosphere created by The Red Scare fans, his teammates and coaches, “super-nice facilities and resources around the team – there is nothing like it.”
Dayton found Fjeldberg to be a good fit, too. He made the Atlantic 10′s All-Rookie Team as a freshman in 2017, and he led the Flyers in scoring with 11 goals and nine assists as a junior in 2019 when he was the A-10 Offensive Player of the Year. He posted 17 goals and 17 assists in three seasons with his senior campaign pushed into this spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He’s listed as a midfielder/defender but plays the center forward spot for the Flyers.
“I’m good on the ball, I’m not very fast but I’m calm and creative and create a lot of chances, score a lot of great goals,” Fjeldberg said when asked how he would describe himself as a player. “I have a lot to work on the defensive end, I’m a creator, like to sit in the middle and create for other people. I think I would complement the play of some of the players there (with FC Cincinnati). I think it’s a good match.”
The 5-foot-10 senior went into the draft feeling cautiously optimistic he could get picked but warned his parents not to get their hopes up. His dad, Harald, had been his coach up until age 14 when he made his club’s senior team and had a great impact on him as a player.
When the draft started at 2 p.m., Fjeldberg watched the first round through MLSSoccer.com’s live-streamed show, while his parents followed along on Twitter from Norway, but the final two rounds were only done through a draft tracker and by the time the second round began after 4:30 p.m., Fjeldberg had class and his parents went to bed. There is a six-hour time difference.
“I FaceTimed my mom and they were in bed,” Fjeldberg said. “I don’t know if I woke them up, but they were excited for me.”
A short time later, FC Cincinnati Director of Scouting and Player Recruitment Hunter Freeman called Fjeldberg. It was the first time he had spoken to anyone from the club, though Dayton coach Dennis Currier had been contacted about him prior to the draft, according to Fjeldberg.
Fjeldberg said he already knew a lot about FC Cincinnati but did more research after the draft.
“(Head coach) Jaap Stam is a legend in Europe,” Fjeldberg said. “I grew up admiring him, I love his playing style and I bet he’s a great coach too. I’m just very humbled and honored to be part of what he’s doing.”
His time with FCC won’t start right away, though. Fjeldberg will get a chance to play with the Flyers this spring, thanks to a unique rule MLS added this season to allow teams two off-roster spots so some players can finish out their college careers.
Fjeldberg, who would occupy a precious international slot on the roster, will be meeting with club staff next week but said the plan is for him to join FCC in May. He hasn’t played a competitive game since last summer with the Dayton Dutch Lions, aside from an intra-squad game UD played in the fall.
Dayton had its first practice Friday and the season begins Feb. 20. Meanwhile, MLS hasn’t yet announced a start date for the season, as the league tries to assess when fans might be able to return to the stands.
“I get a season under my belt playing games so I get to be super fit when I go,” Fjeldberg said. “So, it’s really nice I get to finish with my team. We have a really talented team, great coaching staff, and we have a good thing going on with our competitiveness. Our goal is to win a championship, and I think we have a great chance of doing that.”