Nashville Soccer Club made more signings yesterday, and big things come in fours (pretty much all announcements have come in fours, aside from Lebo Moloto). Defenders Liam Doyle and Bradley Bourgeois, forward Tucker Hume, and midfielder Ryan James are the newest Boys in Gold.
Doyle is a physically imposing center back at 6-4, 200 pounds. He hails from the Isle of Man (which doesn’t have a FIFA or UEFA national team, though some intra-British competition is pretty regular), and arrives at NSC after a year with Swope Park Rangers.
The college soccer product has played two years in the USL after graduating from Ohio State. As a rookie in 2016, he suited up for Harrisburg City Islanders, playing in 28 games. The Islanders were 10th out of 14 Eastern Conference teams, thanks in part to a porous defense (though his individual stats were not available on the USL website. He moved to Swope Park this season, and the team put together by Nashville’s Technical Director Mike Jacobs finished fourth in the Eastern Conference with a stout defense, and then obviously went on a nice run in the playoffs before falling to Louisville City FC in the USL Championship game.
The increase in level of play meant less time for Doyle: He made only 18 appearances for Swope. He had a 72.7% tackle success rate, and won 58.4% of duels (unsurprisingly, he was good on aerial duels with a 61.3% success rate). He had 55 clearances, four blocked shots, and 13 passes intercepted. He’s a very good passer out of the back, with the majority of his passes going forward or to his right from the natural left-footer. His physique says center back, but the stats indicate more of a left back – the only Swope game I saw this year, the USL final, featured him as an unused sub.
Given Coach Gary Smith’s comments – “With his trademark left foot, he can be an unlikely source for starting attacks.” – it seems like a presence at fullback is possible, though he had only one cross this season among four key passes, so breaking lines with his passing from a central position looks like his style. He took 10 shots, four of them on goal and scored twice: once with his head and once with the left foot.
At 25, he’s still a reasonably young guy, and depending on how he develops, could be in the longer-term plans for the club.
Bourgeois is a 23-year old Houston native who comes from the Tulsa Roughnecks after failing to stick with Houston Dynamo of MLS. Smith notes that he could play outside back or centrally, but given the players already brought in and his relatively small stature at 5-11, he seems bound for an outside back position – Tulsa listed him as a midfielder last year, so a wing-back position is likely.
He played in 30 games for the Roughnecks, where fellow NSC signing Kosuke Kimura was a teammate (see the profile of Kimura for more detail on the Roughnecks overall). He stuffed the statsheet with 87 clearances, 12 blocked shots, and 58 interceptions – coming in first, second, and second on the team in the respective categories. He had an 85.7% tackle success rate, well over 50% in duels and aerial duels, and is OK for a defender in passing (though considering he played plenty in midfield, the passing numbers are a bit better – you’re trying to pass in more difficult situations as a midfielder. He completes 81.7% of his passes, with more than a third going to his left (he plays on the right side) and almost 40% going forward (he gets involved in the attack, even playing from a midfield role).
He crossed 11 times, though only one was completed, and had seven key passes without any of them being converted for an assist. He also took 13 shots, though only three were on target and none scored: he’s a defender who can get involved in the attack a bit, not a true offensive threat from the back.
He’s a relative youngster, so could figure into the club’s long-term plans, as well.
Hume is a monstrous striker, standing 6-5, 201. However, he only made it into 23 games for an Ottawa Fury team that finished 10th in the East and scored 42 goals along the way. It was just his first pro season after a four-year college career (and playing in the PDL with the Timbers U-23s).
Hume was responsible for three of the Fury’s goals, one from the head, one from the right foot, and one from “other.” Those came on 35 shots – 20 of those on goal – so it’s not that he wasn’t getting opportunities, he just had a tougher time converting them. He’s a bit more of a developmental or complementary signing at this point as compared to a finished product (and at 24, has plenty of time develop).
His passing was pretty iffy last year as well, with a completion rate of just 57.2%, and 52.5% in his offensive half. Again, that’s partially the nature of the beast when playing up front. Still, developing his skills is going to be a priority, because the physical traits are already there.
Here are his college highlights:
He looks comfortable with both feet, and though he appears to favor the right, some of his more impressive finishes are with the left. Also he’s comically large.
James, a 23-year old Canadian, comes from the Rochester Rhinos. They finished fourth in the Eastern Conference, with a meager 36 goals scored but the second-best in all of USL 28 conceded. Given that Smith mentions he’s a defensive-oriented player for NSC – “Ryan has an athletic ability to play as an outside back or a wing back on either flank. He also possesses the technical skill and game intelligence to be just as effective in the midfield.” – we’ll say he was involved in the good half and not the bad.
In his two years for Rochester (don’t forget, the club is going on hiatus for the 2018 season), James proved to be a key player, with 29 appearances in 2016 and 34 this season. The little guy (5-8, 154 pounds) had a 66.3% tackle success rate, had 30 clearances, and an astounding 100 passes intercepted. He’s a high-motor guy who makes his impact all over the field.
He completed 76.8% of his passes, which is just OK, but on huge volume (just two away from 1,500 passing attempts), it looks a little more impressive. He’s another primarily right-sided player with a quarter of his passes going to his left and nearly 40% pushing up the field. He successfully completed nine of his 43 crosses, with 21 key passes including one assist. He had 10 shots, three on goal, but didn’t score this season (he had one goal in 2016).
As yet another young-ish guy – this round of signings was far more youth-oriented than previous ones – he could be in the long-term plans for the club, too.