NEW YORK – At MLS Studios in midtown Manhattan on Sunday afternoon, Nashville SC CEO Ian Ayre sat side-by-side with his general manager Mike Jacobs as he made the club’s choices in the MLS Expansion Priority Draft.
While Jacobs was pulling the strings and calling the shots during the live draft, Ayre was excited to be a part of a big step in Nashville SC’s MLS roster building process.
“An important part, and exciting to be a part of every step we take over the last year,” Ayre said. “We’ve been building to this moment and the moments that come after it. Important to feel it getting more and more real day by day, and this part of making those decisions is a big step.”
Ayre was hired as Nashville SC’s CEO in the summer of 2018, and one of his priorities was to make sure the club was in as strong of a position as possible to build the right MLS roster. That’s why he made sure to keep Jacobs with the club as it made the move to MLS, making his hire official just a few months into his tenure as CEO.
Jacobs’ vast experience in MLS and in American soccer made the decision easy.
“When I started here in Nashville, Mike was one of my first hires,” Ayre said. “The reason for that is it’s such a long runway from day one to starting in the league. Having to go through all of that process of analysis and selecting players, selecting staff even. So it’s been important that we built the right team to do that, and it’s good to get to see the work they’re doing and make sure that we’re on track and ready to make all the right decisions.”
The GM’s deep knowledge was on display during the Priority Draft. After Inter Miami CF won the coin toss and selected the top pick in the MLS Expansion Draft, Jacobs chose the top spot in the Allocation Ranking Order. He came to that decision after consulting with his analytics department and breaking down the difference in value between the top spot and second spot in the Allocation Order, then comparing that to the values of the top picks in the MLS SuperDraft.
Some notable names have joined expansion teams in MLS through the top spot in the Allocation Ranking Order. Atlanta United signed goalkeeper Brad Guzan using the spot in 2017, and LAFC used the spot in a trade to acquire Walker Zimmerman the next year.
Finalizing the club’s Allocation Ranking, Expansion Draft and SuperDraft picks is a big step forward in Nashville SC’s MLS roster build. From here, Jacobs will continue put the building blocks together, and Ayre is excited for the city of Nashville to see the finished product in 2020.
“There’s lots of things coming up over the next several months as we lead into 2020,” Ayre said. “But I think players are always the biggest attraction to a soccer team, and as we add whether it’s through the drafts or just through recruitment, that’s the thing that gets people excited. We’re all excited to be involved in it, and we know that our fans and supporters will be as excited as we are.”