The Future is Gold
January 21 held the 2021 MLS Superdraft, and Nashville SC had been busy the previous weeks gathering picks. Philadelphia Union gave NSC three of their picks in this year and next year's draft, but that is most likely because Union have a strong established academy that can put out players like Mark McKenzie and Brenden Aaronson who have recently signed contracts at top clubs in Europe. Nashville's academy is still in its infancy, but I feel that we will be just as strong in a few years.
So Nashville entered the draft with five picks: one in the first round, one in the second round, two in the third round, and one compensatory pick. With its first pick at 20th overall, Mike Jacobs selected Irakoze Donasiyano. "Koze", as he is known, is a central attacking midfielder from the University of Virginia. Originally from Tanzania, Koze became an American citizen last year meaning he won't take up an international roster spot. If he stays, he will provide much needed rest for Hany Mukhtar when the German needs it especially after the departure of Derrick Jones to Houston Dynamo. Koze has great vision, balance, and movement off the ball. He is also versatile enough to play up top or on the wing.
With its next pick, Nashville took Tom Judge, a left back out of James Madison University. Judge is a 6'2" defender who likes to contribute on offense, often seen making bombing runs and sending beautiful through balls. If he stays, he would back up Daniel Lovitz and possibly give Taylor Washington a chance to develop more as a left midfielder. The New Jersey native could be used as a center back as well, giving depth to the position that saw Miguel Nazarit go on a one-year loan to his native Colombia.
The third round saw Nashville SC have back to back picks and Jacobs used them to shore up defensive positions. First up was a center back out of Syracuse, Sondre Norheim. The 6'4" Norwegian headed an Orange defense that allowed 1.51 goals per game in his career. At this time, it's unsure if Norheim will require an international slot, though he was capped by the Norwegian U-18 team.
Right after Norheim, Jacobs took a goalkeeper in Tor Saunders from Coastal Carolina. Saunders transferred to the Chanticleers after playing three years for powerhouse program Akron, where he boasted a .622 save percentage his last year. As a Seattle native, Saunders was in the Sounders academy and played for S2 in the USL before moving on to Akron. Saunders seems to be staying in Carolina for this spring season.
With the final pick in the draft, Nashville SC went back to the offensive side of the ball when they selected Leroy Enzugusi out of Drake University. The forward scored 20 goals and three assists in his three years in Iowa. He also spent time in the Sporting KC academy, which is most likely where Mike Jacobs first saw him as Jacobs used to be the assistant Technical Director with SKC. Enzugusi will most likely stay in school for this spring season, but he would make a great addition to the offense by providing a spark off the bench in the middle or on the wings.
Now all that's left is the preseason matchups which have not been announced yet. Hopefully, the Boys in Gold will have some matches that can be televised for the supporters. After that, the league is sticking to it's March estimate of the start of the MLS season. Until then, stick with MLS Now podcast for your league news. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @NSCGoldenBoy.