Rounding up the latest links of relevance and dropping a bit of commentary on them. As always, if you have anything you want me to include in one of these posts, drop it on any of the social channels (or in the comments here), and while you’re at it, follow the site on those if you’re not already.
Top Championship signings. The official USL Championship site runs through the top signings in the league, and Nashville’s representative may surprise you…
2. KHARLTON BELMAR – NASHVILLE SC
Nashville grabbed many of the headlines this offseason by bringing in 2018 Golden Boot Cameron Lancaster and 20-goal scorer Daniel Rios on MLS contracts but Belmar’s addition to NSC is the most interesting to me because the 26-year-old still has a point to prove. Unlike Lancaster and Rios, Belmar is not guaranteed to make the jump with the club to MLS in 2020 and will need to produce alongside those new attacking pieces to earn a spot on the roster. The former Swope Park Rangers forward certainly has the talent to make that happen, having recorded 25 goals and nine assists in the Championship over the past two seasons. However, a lot of the responsibility for making that front three tick will also fall on the shoulders of Nashville Head Coach Gary Smith, who is hoping the club’s new additions spark a change in its attacking philosophy after the side scored just 42 goals in 34 regular-season games last year.
I’ve tried to reiterate how huge a signing this was, but it’s been overshadowed (perhaps rightfully so) by the other forwards who have signed. No. 1 was an Indy Eleven signing, but the article was published before the Thomas Enevoldsen news, so it’s not even what I consider their biggest move of the offseason.
The East looks to be shaping up as a two-horse race. (You can see – though it’s due for an update – the ups and downs of the offseason for USL teams here).
USMNT. The Nats get a bit of a short shrift around here once USL season rolls around, but the first set of friendlies in the Gregg Berhalter era were both encouraging (a plan! and the team executed it!) and enjoyable (two wins!). There’s been plenty about the new coach’s tactics, which were not the 4-2-3-1 we expected after his time in Columbus.
Lima’s use in two positions meant he did a lot of running between right-back and midfield, and could even be found on the edge of the opposition box in attack. However, he wasn’t that involved in the game in terms of actions, and finished the game the fewest of any of the US players who played the full 90(+4), and also fewer than the quietly impressive Bradley who played 86 minutes.
Also, this is no longer breaking news, but it’s still bizarre how “don’t be an asshole” is a total revelation($) for the manager of the national team. It seems obvious, but evidently was not to Jurgen Klinsmann or Bruce Arena (and I don’t think it’s coincidental that a pair of dudes with that personality flaw were unceremoniously axed, though of course the lack of results was far more important in that decision).
Conocer a Daniel Ríos. All my Spanish-speaking homies, check out Daniel Ríos’s Facebook Live interview with El Jefe:
Good stuff from the club’s Spanish-language radio partner.
REFugee. Very cool initiative from Harpeth Youth Soccer Association and Nashville FC Youth. They’re involved in helping local refugees earn certification as soccer officials. Helps the game, helps a community that may need assistance, is good for everyone. Non-controversial in all ways. Love things like this (and Soccer for the Nations, to name another) that use the sport to do good… and have the added benefit of the sport actually helping itself through the efforts of the people using it.
Semi-related (mostly unrelated, but it sort of fits in this bullet point and the Etc. was getting pretty long): Mayor David Briley and Renata Soto point to MLS as one of the things that wouldn’t be a possibility for Nashville if the moronic 2009 “English-only” referendum had passed.
Etc.: Former Nashville SC striker Michael Cox will play in the Canadian Premier League this season. … When the expansion take is bad. … Cool story on a rarity in men’s soccer – a female assistant coach. … Release the pod. Er, download it and listen. Stephen, Clay, and Valair are good friends of the blog. … Read Paul Tenorio’s take on the Andrew Gutman situation. There are some things in there that I know/believe to not be true (like my reporting certainly has some from his perspective – and even from my perspective after seeing some of the things written in the aftermath).