Little more than a month after he was officially signed by Nashville SC, Designated Player Jhonder Cadiz is available to make his MLS debut.
Cadiz has gone through his mandatory quarantine after arriving in Nashville and joined his new teammates for training for the first time this week after the club's 0-0 draw against Minnesota United on Tuesday.
“He’s (training) with the group, he looks in a good place," Smith told media on a virtual press conference Friday. "I'm pleased to have him around, I think he’s a lift to the group. He’s available for selection, that’s all I’ll say at this point.”
Cadiz, 25, is a Venezuelan international who spent 2019-20 on loan with Ligue 1's Dijon, where he had two goals and two assists. Cadiz previously scored a career-high nine times during the 2018-19 league campaign with Vitoria Setubal, another Portuguese first division side.
In addition to potentially seeing the club's third DP make his debut, Nashville's match against SKC is special to general manager Mike Jacobs, having served as Sporting KC's assistant technical director from 2015 to 2017 before coming to Nashville.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity to play against Kansas City with our own team that we built and work with here," Jacobs said. "It’s special, I have fond memories of being there. But the reality is I don’t play or coach, so while it’s important to me, it’s a sidebar on the game.”
Jacobs said he and former colleague Peter Vermes talk often but haven't yet ratcheted up the good-natured trash talk ahead of this one. He sees a familiarity between the two sides as well.
Nashville have been among the best defensive teams in MLS this season. The club's 14 goals conceded are fourth-best in the league, while their expected goals against mark of 17.8 is fifth-best in MLS. Expansion teams in MLS have traditionally struggled in defense, but Nashville been ahead of the curve thanks to a defensive spine that includes Walker Zimmerman, Dave Romney, Dax McCarty and Anibal Godoy.
“When you look at teams that (SKC have) had success with, they’ve always had a great blend of piano players — the creative players, their artists — and their piano carriers," Jacobs said "... For us, Gary has a really good balance of piano artists and piano carriers. We thought creating a mentality that we’d be hard to play against was really important. When you look at the likes of Alex Muyl, Dax McCarty, Anibal Godoy, you have this gritty, grind-it-out group. They take pride in making the opposing team uncomfortable. That’s a hallmark of those Sporting teams.”