NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- After a successful expansion season, making it all the way to the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, Nashville SC is no longer the new kid on the block.
That success is not getting to the team’s head as preseason training begins. Instead, the team is facing new, more demanding expectations for its sophomore season head-on, according to midfielder Aníbal Godoy.
“It’s different,” Godoy said. “It’s different because we have more confidence now. We created a good group, and I think that’s important for us.”
Almost a week into the 2021 preseason, presented by Vanderbilt Health, Godoy said the key to the team is working with humble players. The team and fans alike know what Nashville was able to accomplish in its expansion season. Now the team must work to live up to and exceed those expectations after a successful run last year.
“Last year we did well,” Godoy said. “It’s not only about what happens inside the field. This group has humble players. We don’t have one big star here; I think everybody feels like a star. We have  players and  stars. Everybody is working hard, and I think this is the key for us.”
Godoy believes the team needs to improve even more than last year if Nashville wants to win in 2021. Godoy says he thinks this preseason is personally even more challenging than last year. Now entering his seventh season in MLS, he is looking to make big improvements in his game overall while he tries to help the younger players on the team.
“We don’t have a secret. It’s good communication,” Godoy said on the team’s camaraderie. “It’s good communication with all the players. We have a humble team. Everybody listens, everybody is learning. I try to learn every day. In football you are always learning something. This is my job. I come here to try to improve; I come here to learn.”
Godoy cited other veteran players – Walker Zimmerman, Dax McCarty, Eric Miller – who work alongside him as they try to help the new players. Godoy, specifically, is working this preseason to help new players coming to the team from outside of the United States.
“It’s difficult,” Godoy said. “I want to speak about [Rodrigo] Piñeiro, it’s his first time away from home. It’s his first time to play in another country. It’s difficult to try to leave your family.” Godoy said this is why he really tries to help other international and younger players adjust to the team.
This year is also a busy one for Godoy between his duties with club and country with Panama Men’s National Team. Godoy will be joined by many others on the team who will be representing their countries in various international competitions.
While being pulled away for national team duties may clutter Godoy’s calendar, he spoke about the challenge with a big smile on his face. Godoy will reach his 100th appearance with Panama National Team with his next appearance, which could come later this month during the First Round of the Concacaf Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.
“It’s not easy,” he said. “It’s not only about the 100th cap. It’s about the country.”
Godoy says he tries to put forth his best effort in both his club and country appearances. He said Nashville SC sharpens his skills and allows him to improve his form before he makes appearances for Panama. He plays every day with Nashville and is able to show his daily improvement to his national team coaches in the short stints he is with them.
“When you play for the National Team, you feel confidence. When you come back, you feel more confident and you feel like you need to improve every day.”
Godoy welcomes the challenges of this season with Nashville SC. “I like the work,” he said.