Profile: Malcolm Stewart

Nashville SC signed two players yesterday. I’ve already profiled Danny Vitiello, so it’s time to take a look at Malcolm Stewart.

stewart headshot
Courtesy Nashville SC

Stewart is originally from New York but grew up in Georgia, where he played for the Georgia United Development Academy, one of the programs those folded into Atlanta United’s academy. However, both of his parents are Jamaican, and that has afforded him the opportunity to play with that country’s youth national teams. We can go all the way back to his DA days and TopDrawerSoccer for one of the first substantive discussions of his game:

A strong, athletic center back on perhaps the best defense in the age group, Georgia has only conceded five goals so far on the year, and Stewart plays a big part in that. He’s in the running for some top programs as well.

His speed is a theme in a lot of breakdowns.

He spent two years at UNC Charlotte, where he had just two appearances as a true freshman but blossomed as a sophomore. He started 15 of 18 games played, anchoring a defense that allowed just 0.72 goals per game (while scoring 1.58, to give some context). He also contributed an assist.

He left Charlotte after two years, and after one year in the PDL with the Ocean City Nor’Easters (he made three appearances in the 2017 season, but didn’t accrue any statistics in 135 minutes on the pitch), he’s been in the Los Angeles Galaxy system – though he hasn’t appeared in any official matches – while modeling in the LA area.

Let’s go back to his film to get a little more detail, since a guy who hasn’t played in a competitive match in a couple years is understandably a little under-the-radar.

He’s a tall-strong central defender, coming in 6-3, 180 pounds while at Charlotte, and he uses that size to his advantage a bit in defending, giving him good slide tackling range and making him an intimidating player to take on.

There are also a few times (primarily going forward, which he’s pretty comfortable doing – about which more in a moment) that you get to see that burst of speed that he’s known for. It’s even what NSC coach Gary Smith mentioned on the signing.

“Malcom is a terrific prospect and has many qualities that are needed in the modern game,” said Smith. “He has tremendous pace, good physical stature and is hungry to achieve.”

Stewart shows decent technical ability, making some nice dribbles in traffic and keeping the ball in close range to his feet, or able to play himself into space. Certainly from the center back position, that desire and ability to get forward is not necessarily common. It probably indicates that Stewart’s self-label as a fullback probably isn’t just blowing smoke, despite his fairly huge stature for the position (and particularly at the USL level). While he played mostly CB in the Jamaica film available, he’s almost always a right back in the other clips.

He can be a little bit frantic on the ball, seemingly moving faster than he can think out the next move. Gaining comfort with the speed of the game will really help him there (though as things stand, it does give us a chance to see that he’s capable of swiping the ball right back with a standing tackle in the re-press if he loses it).

He has a pretty good leg to cross the ball, clear it long, or even put on the occasional shot. His long-range passing accuracy isn’t on display in the video, but presumably there’s some ability there.

He’ll turn 23 early in the season, so he’s a young guy with potential. Given that he hasn’t been seen (publicly) on the field in a couple years, that potential is really all we know. Maybe he’s improved enough to be an effective USL player, maybe he hasn’t spent enough time crafting his game in the interim. Obviously he impressed Nashville’s technical staff at his December tryout enough to at least earn a shot.

I would assume he’s more a depth piece unlikely to see much of the field this year, trying to work on his game at a high level as he works back toward a full-time career in soccer. At the same time, there’s a high element of the unknown here. If he can develop quickly (or if he has out of the public eye), the physical talent and technical skill are both there to potentially work his way into a much larger role.

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