GO INSIDE THE MLS ROSTER BUILDING PROCESS WITH OUR GENERAL MANAGER
NASHVILLE – You might not find a busier man in Nashville than Mike Jacobs.
The Nashville Soccer Club GM has been working at a breakneck pace over the last few weeks to build the club’s roster for its inaugural season in Major League Soccer. Since the MLS Expansion Draft on November 19, Nashville’s roster has grown from just nine players to 22.
While his work is not yet done, Jacobs has been thrilled with how the roster building process has gone so far. Take a look at what Jacobs had to say about the players he has and the players yet to come in this edition of Mike’d Up.
On seeing the roster come together since the Expansion Draft
“I think what’s been most encouraging is you think of the months of planning that our staff has gone through to come up with a wishlist of players that we thought fit our model of play, and to see so many of them come to fruition. That’s been really exciting.”
On emphasizing experience and versatility on his roster
“For us, we don’t know yet what we’re going to need. Really until you get into your playing season, it’s hard to know what you’re going to be good at and where you need to improve. For us, the idea of having players who can play in multiple roles and players in multiple systems, alignments or shapes, we thought that was the best way to help Gary [Smith] have all the tools he’ll need in his toolbox.”
On where the roster build stands and what’s next
“We talked about these figurative mile markers in this marathon that we’re running to the start of the MLS season. The next big one is the MLS SuperDraft. For an expansion team, and one that doesn’t have a full academy running to feed your roster with homegrowns, the fact that we have the potential with four draft picks currently, and that can be more or less depending on trades prior to the SuperDraft, because it’s the opportunity to add as many as four other players to our roster and primarily with designations to our senior roster because of their age or experience.”
On if he’s reached a point of satisfaction with his roster
“We’re constantly evaluating the group that we have. There’s definitely a sentiment of wanting to take these players and finally be able to hand them over to Gary and say now you have your group. Obviously he’s worked very closely in identifying and selecting players that we’ve gone after. But it would be nice to get to that point where they go from magnets on a dry erase board to now being real people in practice with our manager. That’s exciting. I think once we get into the preseason, the evaluations are both Gary and I taking inventory of the players we have to see how we can use them.”
On having experienced players and players that have won trophies on the roster
“I think sometimes there’s not enough attention given to how hard our league is because every league is different and not many people understand the demands of MLS. We wanted to make sure we got players who understood our league. The second part to me is not only having guys that have been in our league, but guys who played key roles in very good teams that come into our team with very high expectations of winning and success. Guys like Dax [McCarty] who have won multiple Supporters’ Shields, guys like Jalil Anibaba or Joe Willis who have won multiple U.S. Open Cups. Winning is habitual. It’s not a sometimes thing, it’s an all-the-time thing. To have guys who come with expectations of being successful, that’s going to permeate into our entire group. And that’s not just the guys who have been in MLS, but guys like Randall [Leal], Aníbal [Godoy] or [Brayan] Beckeles who have played well for their country in events like World Cups and Gold Cups.”
He's got World Cup caps with @FenafuthOrg 🇭🇳 and a trophy with @ClubNecaxa 🏆.— Nashville SC (@NashvilleSC) December 5, 2019
We've got all the facts about our newest signing @BrayanBeckeles. #BandTogetherNSC | https://t.co/VpQKbCWnFv pic.twitter.com/4AFsx8kK0y
On having a diverse group of players on the team
“At the forefront of this build was the idea of cohesion. Not just about collecting good players, but collecting players that we thought would play well together and making sure we had commonalities like language. Our team almost across the board, everyone speaks either English and/or Spanish. Commonalities like age, having players of similar ages in certain roles on the field that we think would have things in common and understand each other. And then having players that can bridge those groups of experience doing that. I think sometimes when you look in groups, what gets understated is you can’t see it sometimes during games or in ESPN highlights, you can’t underestimate leadership and experience of guys like McCarty or Godoy or Anibaba, guys in MLS who have done that, guys like Beckeles who have done that outside of our league. To me, I think having veterans who have been through the battles and challenges are going to help this group get through the dog days of a very long Major League Soccer season.”