NASHVILLE- From sunny Florida skies to a dreary Tennessee morning, Nashville SC snapped back to reality Tuesday after a week at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. With just one day off in between, the team returned home to train indoors at Vanderbilt University’s facility and looked to build upon a strong foundation established from the week prior.
There’s No Place Like Home
Though the weather last week was perfect for a quick getaway, the trip was far from a vacation. A heavy practice schedule and two preseason friendlies filled Nashville’s itinerary. The coaching staff turned Tuesday’s training down a notch in terms of intensity and workload. Its format more closely reflected what players could expect to see while in season. A combination of position specific drills was followed by an 11v11 session and a modest amount conditioning rather than the rigorous two-a-days that the team had previously experienced during the preseason.
“The games, the facilities, the ability to be on site and train three times a day does wonders for everyone,” said head coach Gary Smith on the team’s time at IMG Academy. “We’ve had a travel day and a day off. We’ve come back in today and I’m not surprised to see everybody really on their front foot and showing a tremendous amount of energy in this indoor area. I thought everyone looked really bright.”
Talk About Talent
Nashville, we have a problem. But it’s a good one. In today’s full-field scrimmage, Smith had both Daniel Rios and Cameron Lancaster up top in the same color pinnie, which dares the question: Could we see them on the field at the same time in 2019?
“There’s a tremendous amount of competition in that front line,” said Smith. “But with just those two, looking at them right now, the thought in my mind has to be, 'Are we going to look to have a front pairing this year?' You can see the challenge that I’ll have in creating that forward lineup. It’s a nice challenge.”
Though nothing is set in stone, it’s clear that Nashville’s attack is shaping up to be both lethal and versatile. If having the league’s top two scorers from last season isn’t enough, check out the rest of the talent-packed roster which includes both Tucker Hume and Kharlton Belmar who had seven and 11 goals last year, respectively.
“There are some big decisions to make. All managers want tough choices. You want good players that are fighting for positions, that are pushing one another,” said Smith.
Same Song, Second Verse
During the offseason, the team’s roster remained untouched in the midfield, but it’s going to look significantly different in 2019 even with the same exact players.
In today’s training, it was clear that Matt LaGrassa, Bolu Akinyode, and Michael Reed are building upon what they started last season in terms of chemistry, movement and overall dynamic. Plus a healthy Lebo Moloto will be back in the mix and ready to go. Despite missing the last six games of the 2018 season with a knee injury, Moloto had seven goals and five assists throughout the season.
Needless to say, it’s good to have him back.
“[Lebo] brings some special stuff, some creativity,” said LaGrassa. “Having him out there has been great. We’ve always found it pretty easy to work together. We’re all different players, and we all bring different elements, and we find appreciation for each other.”
Be on the lookout for a more in-depth breakdown of the team’s midfield in the coming days. NashvilleSC.com will continue to preview each position as the team gears up for the USL Championship regular season.
Feb. 12-15: Midfielders
Feb. 24- March 1: Forwards