Sean Davis arrived at the Teterboro Airport in northern New Jersey with his girlfriend, an apt setting metaphorically. Airports are a place of excitement and possibility for something new, just like where Davis' career sat in mid-December.
Davis had just entered free agency and was experiencing a recruiting environment he hadn't felt since his college soccer days at Duke University. He planned to first meet with Nashville SC – among several clubs chasing his signature – and they'd pick him up. Not near Nashville, though.
Club owner John Ingram and general manager Mike Jacobs arrived in a private jet to pick him up and bring him to Music City. They were intent on conveying just how serious they were and just how much they valued him.
"Honestly, I would have been fine flying to Nashville in economy," Davis joked as he told media members the story. "But this was a special gesture from them. They made me feel so appreciated that they would go to these lengths."
Davis had spent his entire career with the New York Red Bulls. A New Jersey kid who grew up less than an hour from Red Bull Arena, Davis was a member of their academy and signed a homegrown deal ahead of the 2015 MLS season. He quickly grew into an integral member of playoff-challenging RBNY teams and then became club captain.
He leaves having made the third-most appearances in RBNY history, joining Nashville through 2024 with a 2025 option.
“Leaving Red Bulls, we ended on great terms," Davis said. "That’s pretty rare in this business. It’s not always easy. … It’s a club that I love and respect. I wish them nothing but the best, I truly mean that.”
“It’s been a seamless move," head coach Gary Smith said of Davis. "The work I’ve seen already, although a small sample size, reinforces what I already felt and looked forward to with his arrival.”
Preseason begins with deep squad
Nashville's roster is largely filled for the time being, with the overwhelming majority of last year's core returning. Aside from Davis joining, club-record signing Ake Loba is getting a full preseason following his arrival last July.
Loba, acquired for nearly $7 million from Liga MX's CF Monterrey during the summer, played 381 minutes during the regular season as a strike partnership of CJ Sapong and Hany Mukhtar fueled a third-place finish in the Eastern Conference standings. Teal Bunbury and Ethan Zubak were also acquired this offseason via trades for further options in attack.
“The opportunity to see Ake in a full preseason, where he can integrate with the likes of Hany, CJ and Teal is encouraging," Jacbos said. "We’re always looking to have as many scoring options as possible. I love the idea of giving Gary a difficult time to pick the team because he has options."
Even with the departure of defender Alistair Johnston in a trade with CF Montréal, Nashville have internal options. Muyl is expected to get a crack at earning the majority of available minutes at right wingback. The natural winger also spent time centrally last year when Nashville shifted to the three-central defender system that eliminated wingers.
That doesn't mean the 2022 roster is set in stone, though.
The Primary Transfer Window typically extends until early May while the summer window opens in July, though official dates for the 2022 season have not been announced. Regardless, with a significant amount of allocation money accrued by trading four international spots for a combined $1m GAM and the Johnston trade returning another $1m GAM, Nashville have plenty of flexibility. They also have roster spots, a Designated Player spot and all three U22 Initiative slots at their disposal.
“One of our goals all along was to position the team to compete right now but also for when an opportunity to refresh or upgrade the group, we had the resources to do that," Jacobs said. "For us to be in this position to have weapons available at our disposal to add players at the right time, we’re excited about that.”