2020 Season Preview: Nashville SC

Heading towards their inaugural season... Nashville SC have prioritized MLS experience and defensive solidity in roster building. 

An already impressive defensive unit was emboldened by the blockbuster acquisition of 2019 Best XI center back Walker Zimmerman, joining respected MLS veterans Dax McCarty and Anibal Godoy in the expansion side's spine. How far can 2010 MLS Cup-winning head coach Gary Smith take his side in 2020?

Extratime Analysis: Nashville SC

Star players

  • Walker Zimmerman — Two years ago, LAFC identified Zimmerman as the man to anchor their expansion defense. Now, after two hugely successful seasons on an individual and team front, Zimmerman takes on a new challenge in Nashville.
  • Hany Mukhtar — Once Germany's next top prospect, Mukhtar has lit up the Danish league for a few years preceding his move to MLS. The No. 10 can contribute both goals and assists in attack.
  • Dax McCarty — One of the well-respected veterans in MLS, McCarty comes to Nashville with 361 MLS regular season matches already under his belt. 

Projected Starting XI

2020 Roster

  • Goalkeepers (3): Elliot Panicco, Joe Willis, Adrian Zendejas
  • Defenders (11): Jalil Anibaba, Brayan Beckeles, Daniel Lovitz, Jack Maher, Jimmy Medranda, Eric Miller, Miguel Nazarit, Dave Romney, Ken Tribbett, Taylor Washington, Walker Zimmerman
  • Midfielders (10): Tah Brian Anunga, Tanner Dieterich, Anibal Godoy, Luke Haakenson, Alistair Johnston, Derrick Jones, Matt LaGrassa, Randall Leal, Dax McCarty, Hany Mukhtar
  • Forwards (5): David Accam, Dominique Badji, Abu Danladi, Daniel Rios, Alan Winn

Armchair Analyst: Strengths and weaknesses

  • Strength: If you look at how and where Cincinnati failed last year and Minnesota failed in 2017 & 2018, it starts in the engine room. Both teams lost just about every battle up the spine, specifically in central midfield. Nashville, with Dax McCarty and Anibal Godoy as starters, and some youngish, high-upside kids on the depth chart, should be much sturdier there and in central defense. There’s no way this team comes close to shipping 70+ goals, especially after acquiring Best XI CB Walker Zimmerman to clean up behind those guys.
  • Weakness: They might not score much, though. Hany Mukhtar and Randall Leal have good reps, but neither is a sure thing in MLS in 2020. Neither are guys like David Accam and Abu Danladi, who are both expected to see significant time on the wings, and neither is anyone in the entire roster for center forwards on the team. If Mukhtar and Leal don’t live up to their billing, Nashville will be in trouble.

Predictions

  • Ben Baer: 11th in West
  • Marcelo Balboa (Univision): 13th in West
  • Calen Carr: 13th in West
  • Charlie Davies: 13th in West
  • Matt Doyle: 10th in West
  • Kristian Jack (TSN): 13th in West
  • Frederic Lord (TVA Sports): 13th in West
Series: 

MLS Unites to VOTE

Join Major League Soccer, Black Players for Change, and the MLS Players Association in participating in the November 3 general election. Make a plan to vote.