Piñeiro and Mike Jacobs

NASHVILLE – The Boys in Gold are back.  

Nashville SC began its second Major League Soccer preseason on Wednesday. In anticipation, General Manager Mike Jacobs met with the media this week to take stock of the team going into the 2021 season.  

Here’s what Jacobs had to say in this edition of Mike’d Up.  

On building on last year’s success 

“You look at the success we had defensively with the record-setting goals against average for an expansion club, but also you saw the success we had offensively toward the end of the season after October 14, which was Jhonder Cádiz’s first match away in Houston [Dynamo FC]. We were eighth in the league in goals per game and third in the league in total goals scored [after October 14]. We’re very encouraged about the idea of what we built in year one and the continuity that really built as our season went on. To think about having this whole group together for a full preseason is really exciting.” 

On improving the attack in 2021 

“We were able to add a proven quantity in our league like CJ Sapong, someone who’s had great success within our league with Sporting Kansas City, with Philadelphia [Union], and with Chicago [Fire FC], as well as for the U.S. National Team, and add a young prospect like Rodrigo Piñeiro. It’s very similar with what I promised Gary [Smith] from year one to year two in [the USL Championship]: our goal was to never be in a situation where we struggled to be able to score goals ever again. Ultimately, execution comes down to players on the field, but I do feel like where maybe we were cautious in year one as far as our roster build, I do feel really good heading into season two in this project that we have the right kind of personnel to not only be able to create but also to finish scoring chances.” 

On overcoming adversity in 2020 

“When you look back at this last year, literally no club in any sport in their expansion year has had to deal with what we had to this last year. When we talk about the guiding principles for our club and our staff, one of the most important ones is resiliency. And when you look back in this last year, I think not only the success our team had on the field, but the ability to demonstrate that kind of resiliency by dealing with the adversity that really no club has been asked to do before then, it has created a tremendous foundation for this club moving forward.  I think it was a successful season to be able to advance to the Playoffs in year one. The fact that we were able to persevere through that kind of adversity and demonstrate that kind of resiliency, it’s going to provide a foundation for years to come for this club.” 

On the potential for more roster moves before the season 

“What I would tell you is we have worked very hard in maintaining roster flexibility by having open roster spots on our senior roster, having open international spots, having enough allocation money. All of that puts us in a position where depending on what Gary’s needs are in preseason, whether it’s adding someone short term in the next month or two or waiting till the summer window, we have the roster flexibility, the cap flexibility, and the assets to add other players. I always like the idea of using this time of the year for evaluation. For us, it’s a perfect time of year to see what we have but also to see what we don’t have and if we might need to freshen up during this window or during the summer window.” 

On competition and depth among players 

“The one thing Gary always stresses to me is how critical he thinks competition is to get the best out of players. From his perspective, he’s never concerned about having a logjam of players. We had to play three matches last year where we had no center forwards and we were using players like Derrick Jones as a false nine, or guys like Randall [Leal] or Alex [Muyl] up front. We went into this offseason making sure we would not be in that position ever again where we would have a shortage of players in those roles, specifically in the nine role. I think we feel really good about adding someone like CJ [Sapong], who not only can they play center forward, but also can play wide as well. We’ve created nice competition up front and some depth there as well.”