Some expansion teams hit the ground running like Atlanta United and LAFC. Some, like Cincinnati, take their time; although, with the moves they've made, Cincy seems to be tired of the wooden spoon. Nashville SC surprised everyone last year, and they're looking to continue their run of form.
From starting off the year losing the first two games to not even participating in MLS is Back, Nashville ended up seventh in the Eastern Conference and making it to the semifinals before being eliminated in Extra Time by the eventual champion Columbus Crew. Nashville SC had the league's best defense led by DPOY Walker Zimmerman and goalkeeper Joe Willis who led the league in clean sheets. Now, General Manager Mike Jacobs is looking to get his offense at the same level.
Jacobs started the off-season drafting two offensive players in Irakoze Donasiyano and Leroy Enzugusi; however, not every draft pick will have the instant impact as last year's second round pick Alistair Johnston. So Jacobs had his scout network searching and struck gold in South America. Rodrigo "Lolly" Piñeiro is a winger from Uruguay who has a lot of upside as well as speed and, as is Mike Jacobs' style, can play multiple positions. “Rodrigo has the pace and creativity to be a threat in the final third of the field, both on and off the ball. He adds a unique dynamic to our attack,” Jacobs said of the 21 year old who has signed until 2023.
But he wasn't done finding attackers. Just this week, Nashville SC announced the free agent transfer of MLS veteran CJ Sapong for two years with an option of adding a third. The 32 year old attacker can play all across the front line and has garnered 71 goals and 25 assists in his MLS career in addition to the 2011 Rookie of the Year award, the 2012 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, and the 2013 MLS Cup. “CJ is a proven goal scorer who plays with the energy and enthusiasm needed in successful teams,” said Jacobs. “His athleticism and tenacity, coupled with his versatility to play multiple roles across the front line, makes him a handful to play against. He also adds to an attacking corps that really caught fire towards the end of our first season when we had our full complement of players. His addition only enhances that group.”
Hany Mukhtar, Randall Leal, Alex Muyl, Daniel Rios, and Jhonder Cadiz started really clicking toward the end of the season. Goals starting flying in for the Boys in Gold. Now, adding these pieces, Jacobs and Head Coach Gary Smith look to have an offense just as potent as their defense.