Dan Lovitz Training, 3.3.21

NASHVILLE – What's more challenging than making the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in your expansion season?  

Doing it again in year two.  

That’s precisely the challenge in front of defender Dan Lovitz and the rest of the Nashville SC squad. While the club’s first-year success came as surprise to most outside observers, it will now have to contend with the sophomore expectations that come with making the Playoffs and making it to the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2020.  

“The pressure was off of us for the majority of the season,” Lovitz said after the first day of preseason, pres. by Vanderbilt Health, on Wednesday. “When we got into the Playoffs, we were still considered the underdog in all those matchups. That’s an easier dynamic to work with than having a run like we did and having to sustain it. That’s why repeat championships are hard for those teams that make it to that level. I think internally our expectations are incredibly high. We know what last year was, but we’re going to be serious and look each other in the eye and hold ourselves accountable for what we think we can accomplish this year when things hopefully open up and start to look a little bit more familiar to what we’re used to. Very much looking forward to that.” 

That process of holding themselves accountable began with the first day of preseason, which included rigorous fitness testing and running. Having gone through last year’s preseason, plus an additional set of camps leading up to the late summer resumption of the season, Lovitz knows what Head Coach Gary Smith expects in terms of fitness. 

“It’s no joke,” Lovitz said. “I think Gary has a philosophy that you’re either bought in all the way or you feel the pain. Luckily last year we had three preseasons more or less given the way the year shaped out, so a lot of guys know what he’s going to ask for and can use the time that we had earlier to prepare. It went smooth today with the fitness tests. Looking forward to getting past that physical phase and getting what we need to in order and start working on how we want to play this year, how we want to improve, all that stuff.” 

Nashville SC finished the 2020 season by taking points in six of its last seven regular season matches and winning two Playoff matches en route to a berth in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Lovitz says that this 2021 season will be about recapturing what sparked that run, while also seeking to meet those high expectations and improve upon the solid foundation set by that inaugural Playoff run.  

“I think it’s a different mountain to climb,” Lovitz said. “There was an understood challenge in being an expansion team last year, but that ended up looking a lot different than we expected. We’re incredibly proud of what we did last year, but we understand that last year doesn’t really represent a typical year for an expansion team. We know this year is going to be a whole different animal. We’re just looking forward to improving on what we did last year and sticking to the stuff that made us a good, competitive team in the part of the season where it counts. That’s our focus at the moment, one thing at a time.” 

Follow along with Nashville SC’s preseason coverage at NashvilleSC.com, and on the club’s social media channels.