Nashville SC finds itself in a unique position heading into its third season in Major League Soccer.
Not only does it return the core of a roster that came within one goal of advancing to the Eastern Conference Final in 2021, but it also has amassed a large cache of Allocation Money, through various transactions throughout the offseason.
Essentially, General Manager Mike Jacobs has the best of both worlds as preseason is set to begin next week: a proven, competitive roster and enough Allocation Money to make moves if needed.
“For us to be able to add that kind of allocation money to increase our war chest with the group of players we already have sets us up in a really encouraging spot in our third season,” Jacobs said. “We’re excited about that. In this stage, we head to Bradenton, [Florida] and will take inventory of the group of guys we have now to make sure we have everything we need. I feel really good about the guys we’re bringing back and also feel even better about the fact that if we need to freshen an area up or upgrade something, we have roster spots, international spots and a war chest of GAM.”
Nashville’s brass helped solidify the roster even more in Tuesday’s MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas with the selection of defender Ahmed Longmire from UCLA. Jacobs sent the No. 26 overall pick and $125,000 in General Allocation Money to the Colorado Rapids in exchange for the #10 pick to select Longmire. The Rapids will receive an additional $50,000, if Longmire meets certain performance-based metrics.
Jacobs says he had an eye on Longmire throughout the draft and pounced on the chance to move up to take him.
“Our hope was to try and identify other teams that maybe would offer us the opportunity to move up, maybe looking at the fact that we were doubling down on our ability to identify talent and try to grab someone maybe undervalued externally that we valued highly and try to acquire them without giving up as much as possible,” Jacobs said. “We had the chance to watch [Longmire] extensively. Very quickly for us, the best center back on the board we were looking at was him. For us, whether we play with three center backs or two center backs, we know in a World Cup year that Walker [Zimmerman] would be away quite a bit. We were able to strengthen our depth with not only the best player on the board, but with who fit our group the best.”
The club has done more than acquire Allocation Money throughout this offseason, however. Jacobs was delighted to sign midfielder Sean Davis as a free agent, adding a former New York Red Bulls captain and a dynamic player to an already stout midfield.
“Sean is someone who is really well thought of around the league when you look at what he offers on both sides of the ball and on and off the field,” Jacobs said. “He clearly is someone who displays that ‘NSC DNA.’ I think he has that in spades. We added someone who I think can be a linchpin in our group, not only in our midfield to pair him with guys like Aníbal [Godoy], Dax [McCarty] and [Tah Brian] Anunga, but to continue to build this spine that has had the best goals against average and shutouts over the first two seasons.”
Looking to the 2022 season, the club will look to make history and get into the playoffs for the third season in a row. Jacobs says his roster has plenty of growth potential, and if changes are needed, that “war chest” is primed and ready to be tapped.
“There are very few teams that get into the playoffs in their first three seasons,” he said. “We’ll continue to aspire to be one of the teams in that group. You saw what players like Hany Mukhtar and Randall Leal did from year one to year two, and I think you’ll see some similar growth from some other players on our team. I don’t think there are any spots I’m worried about going into preseason. I feel good with the group we have, knowing that if we do feel we have to [upgrade], we’re primed and ready to do so.”