NASHVILLE - Nashville SC GM Mike Jacobs has a lot to be happy about.
The roster he built from scratch in 2020 defied every outside expectation as Nashville SC made a run to the Eastern Conference Semifinals in its first season in Major League Soccer.
However, just because he’s happy doesn’t mean he’s satisfied.
Jacobs says that while 2020 laid the foundation, it’s now time to build even more and consistently contend for trophies.
“While we’re really pleased with how we did in our first year, there’s no level of complacency from the standpoint of thinking that we’ve made it,” Jacobs said during a Zoom call with reporters this week. “We talk with our staff about being both ‘here’ and ‘there.’ We’re not ‘there’ yet. We’ve not reached the point where we feel like we have demonstrated that we’re going to be a team that has sustained success and compete for MLS Cups. But, I think we’re ‘here.’ I think we’ve created an opportunity for ourselves to demonstrate that our foundation is something we can build off of.”
While only a handful of roster spots are open after the 2020 season, Jacobs says moves geared towards 2021 have already been made: the acquisition of Jhonder Cádiz on loan and the trade for Handwalla Bwana from Seattle Sounders FC. Jacobs also added midfielder Alex Muyl on August 9, long after the team's training camp and season restart camp.
Cádiz made 10 appearances at the end of the season after coming over from SL Benfica in Portugal, while Handwalla made four appearances near the end of the season. Jacobs says the two of them, as well as Muyl, could see an even bigger role in 2021 following a full training camp and preseason.
With those moves made, Jacobs says the club is close to finalizing even more moves before the 2021 season, with the potential for more midseason moves in mind.
“I think we’re pretty close to announcing a couple of moves fairly soon to get us into the start of the season,” Jacobs said. “I think we’ve been arming ourselves not only to get into the start of the season, but prepare ourselves so when the time comes to make additional moves during the year, we’ll do that.”
Nashville SC made its first move of the offseason during the Dec. 13 trade window, sending an international roster spot to Atlanta United FC for $175,000 in General Allocation Money. However, that doesn’t mean Jacobs won’t be active on the international transfer market.
“We’re selling international spots because we’re flipping green cards so quickly,” Jacobs said. “We know how many international spots we need. We know which players we have with green cards, and we’ll have something to announce shortly. You can also expect to hear something shortly about a new addition that we’ll have on that front.”
While Jacobs says he likes the attackers he has signed so far, he also hinted that there could be another attacking piece on the way to round out a strike force that began to click late in the season.
“I think one thing that was important for us in this first year was to develop depth, to be more than just 11 players deep,” Jacobs said. “Not only do I see Jhonder and Handwalla vying for playing time, but I’d say there’s probably at least one other attacking player who will come in and will push and challenge for that group. We’re encouraged by having five or six guys that we think can play in that front three and get playing time, or come in off the bench and change the pace of the game.”