With less than a month to go until the start of the 2020 MLS campaign, we are taking a look at how each team has evolved since last year and their chances this term. This time, we look at Nashville SC.
There is no last season when it comes to Nashville SC. Having been awarded the 26th franchise in MLS, the club embarks on its first ventures in the top flight of American soccer in 2020. The process for the second of the two new teams in MLS this year began back in August 2016. The club began life as a USL Championship side, beginning play in 2018. The formal process to add an MLS franchise in Nashville had begun a few months prior to their USL Championships debut. On March 4, 2017, businessman John Ingram, under the entity, Nashville Holdings LLC, bought a majority stake in DMD Soccer, the ownership group of Nashville SC.
Ingram headed up the bid to bring an MLS franchise to Nashville, and the partnership between Ingram and Nashville SC was an effort to present a united front to MLS after Nashville was named one of ten finalist cities for four MLS franchises. In August 2017, the Wilf family, owners of the Minnesota Vikings, joined as investors after an aborted bid for an expansion side in Minneapolis. Just a month before the 2018 USL Championship campaign began, Nashville was awarded an MLS expansion side, beginning play in 2020. In February of last year, it was announced that the MLS side would assume the Nashville Soccer Club name, which had been used by the city’s USL Championship side for the past two seasons.
The club will begin play in 2020 and are the first-ever MLS franchise based in Tennessee. Here is how they shape up for the season ahead.
Six players that featured for the USL Championship version of Nashville SC have made the jump to the top flight. Forwards Daniel Rios and Alan Winn look to keep their goalscoring form up from last season, while midfield duo Derrick Jones and Matt LaGrassa have also graduated with Nashville. Defensively, Ken Tribbett and Taylor Washington have also followed the club through the ranks to MLS.
Transfers & SuperDraft Picks
Nashville SC have made some good moves in the offseason transfer market and will go into the 2020 campaign with some experienced heads among the squad. Goalkeeper Joe Willis has been brought in to the club from the Houston Dynamo as the number one, with Adrian Zendejas, formerly of Sporting Kansas City, as his back-up.
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In defence, the Tennessee-based side have brought in some real experience, including two 26-year-olds from LA. Dave Romney signed for the club following a stint with the LA Galaxy, while Walker Zimmerman ends a two-year spell with LAFC to join Nashville SC after a blockbuster trade. Eric Miller, Jalil Anisaba, Jimmy Medranda and Daniel Lovitz have all spent plenty of time in MLS as well, to add to imports Miguel Nazarit and Brayan Beckeles, who will feature in MLS for the first time in their careers.
Anibal Godoy and Dax McCarty are the two big-name signings in the middle of the park, with the expansion side signing German midfielder Hany Mukhtar as their very first Designated Player. Randall Leal has signed from Costa Rican side Deportivo Saprissa to add depth in midfield as well. The club will be able to call upon three African forwards, all with MLS experience. The Ghanaian duo of Abu Danladi and David Accam have signed from Minnesota United and the Columbus Crew, respectively, while Senegal’s Dominique Badji makes the move across from FC Dallas.
Thanks to being a new side in MLS, the club received the second pick in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft, but with some good trades, they managed to go into the event with three of the first 13 picks. With the second overall pick, Nashville SC chose Indiana defender Jack Maher. With the acquired picks, the club selected Wake Forest defender Alistair Johnston and UNC Charlotte shot-stopper Elliot Panicco.
NSC then also had the second pick in each of the remaining three rounds and put all three selections to good use. Clemson midfielder Tanner Dieterich, Florida Gulf Coast forward Shak Adams and Creighton midfield Luke Haakenson were all selected by the Tennessee side.