Nashville SC striker Jhonder Cádiz made his presence known in Music City late in the 2020 season.
After his club debut on October 14, Nashville SC had the eighth-highest goals per game rate in Major League Soccer.
Now, Cádiz is continuing to make an impact in 2021 with two goals in the first two matches of the season, good for first on the team and tied for second in MLS, only trailing LA Galaxy’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez.
“I’m delighted for Jhonder,” Head Coach Gary Smith said. “Two goals, and I still don’t think he’s fully fit. He’s had an injury in preseason and he’s still working his way back to full health. If he’s not at full health, then I would imagine there’s got to be a huge plus for him and the team. When he is in his sharpest condition, I think he’ll cause defenders a serious problem.”
Cádiz arrived in Nashville in September of 2020 on loan from Portuguese giant SL Benfica. He spent the 2019-20 season on loan with Dijon FCO in the French Ligue 1, scoring three goals and adding three assists across all competitions. His time in France was cut short when Ligue 1 decided to cancel the remainder of its season in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
When he was signed, the 25-year-old hadn’t had a competitive match in nearly six months and joined a squad rounding into form late in the 2020 MLS season. Despite the physical hurdles to climb, Cádiz still made an impact with seven substitute appearances and three Audi MLS Cup Playoff starts, scoring two goals in the process.
This year, Cádiz says he has worked hard to put himself in a position to succeed.
“Personally, I have worked a lot on my physical and mental wellbeing,” Cádiz said. “In the last year, I’ve spent a lot of time without playing, and it was difficult. But with the preseason in Tampa, I feel that my fitness improved a lot. Every day my job is to get better not just in my game, but also with my fitness, my mentality, my confidence.”
Both of Cádiz’s goals this season have been major sparkplugs for the Boys in Gold as they mounted back-to-back comebacks. On opening night against FC Cincinnati, he put himself in position to get on the end of a Randall Leal low cross and tap in a goal to cut Nashville’s deficit midway through the first half. Last weekend against CF Montréal, he got on the end of another Leal cross and scored, this time with his head while being heavily defended. Those goals helped propel Nashville to a pair of 2-2 draws.
As far as this season goes, the Venezuelan international says he isn’t targeting a particular goal total, but he wants to do whatever it takes to help the team win.
“I hope I score a lot of goals this season,” he said. “I hope this for the team, but I don’t have a specific number. Hopefully the maximum amount I can. The more I can score, it’s better for the team. It’s about working and trying to convert every opportunity that I have, to convert it into a goal.”
Cádiz remains on loan from Benfica, but he’s already discovered what many already feel about Nashville: it feels like home.
“I like Nashville,” Cádiz said. “I really like it. My girlfriend likes it a lot. We have friends here; there is a big Venezuelan community here. I love it here, and I like the team a lot.”
Cádiz and the Boys in Gold take on Inter Miami CF this Sunday at Noon CT, presented by Hyundai. Tickets are available here.