Let us begin with the club release:
NASHVILLE (February 12, 2018) – Nashville’s Major League Soccer (MLS) technical staff continues to grow as the club announced the hires of Chance Myers as Chief Scout and Ally Mackay as Assistant General Manager.
Myers had a 10-year MLS playing career that includes a MLS Cup title in 2013 and two U.S. Open Cup titles in 2012 and 2015, all with Sporting Kansas City. After becoming the first overall pick of the 2008 MLS SuperDraft by the then Kansas City Wizards, Myers blossomed into a stalwart at right back on one of the best defenses in MLS. He made a total of 158 MLS appearances over his 10-year career.
“We were very thoughtful about how our staff was going to be comprised, and as we looked at the profile of the successful scouts, it became apparent very quickly that Chance was our ideal choice,” said Nashville SC GM Mike Jacobs. “His connection with current and former players in the league gives him insight like few others, and really made him the perfect fit for our club.”
Mackay has been around MLS, primarily as a player agent for Stellar Group, for the last five years. Based in London, Stellar is one of the largest sports agencies in the world, representing over 200 soccer players worldwide, and has offices in countries around the globe. Mackay will be able to utilize those connections to assist Jacobs in building Nashville’s inaugural MLS roster in 2020.
“The experiences that Ally has gained as a player agent offers unique insight of our league and a skillset that is hard to replicate,” said Jacobs. “He has developed a reputation as not only a tireless worker, but for also having a proven track record for identification and selection of top young American talent. He is a tremendous asset to add to our technical staff.”
Let us begin with Mackay, since Assistant GM seems to be the more significant of the positions. Mackay has been working with Stellar USA in his time under that agency’s (multinational) umbrella. From his Stellar bio (since removed with his change in scenery):
A Scot by birth, Ally played football for Ross County before earning a full scholarship to the University of Evansville in Indiana.
Through a hands-on approach and strong work ethic, Ally is respected by peers and clients alike. With an extensive network in the US and in Europe, he has the ability to spot talent and help players develop their careers.
Having studied an MSc in Sports Management at the University of Stirling in his homeland, Ally has a strong business portfolio that involves all facets of client guidance.
It’s clear that working for a huge agency (per the data at Transfermarkt, Stellar has the sixth-most total clients of any in the world, with the second-highest aggregate value of any) can work in Nashville’s advantage in a few different ways. He has connections to players and agents, naturally. He has represented players on the other side of the desk, so knows how to get deals across. He has a scouting network from the agent perspective that gives a slightly different view than what you might expect coming strictly from front office.
He also has a Mike Jacobs connection, with three years (he played in a handful of games in first year, none in second, four in third year) at Evansville, where he was a defender. The personal relationship is a good thing. The GM also has three years of interpersonal experience with the guy to know they see the game either similarly or in complementary ways.
The other hire comes from another guy with a Jacobs connection: Chance Myers player at Sporting Kansas City 2008-16, and Jacobs was the team’s assistant Technical Director from 2015-17, so there’s a two-year overlap. (Myers had a wild ‘do during his SKC days, yes. The later stages of his playing career are far less exciting, even if that’s the current hairstyle arrangement, too).
Myers was the No. 1 overall pick by SKC in the 2008 SuperDraft, and while he was never an All-Star, by the time he signed with the Timbers as a free agent, he was considered one of the better right backs in the league. A fringe national-teamer (he was a youth international and got called up for Camp Cupcake in 2014, but did not make it into either friendly). That he left SKC when Jacobs was part of the technical staff may seem like a potential point of friction, but it boiled down more to the way MLS rules devalue American-born veteran players who don’t have MNT caps (great rules!).
He also has a ridiculous stat named after him, for scoring twice in one game but never again in his playing career:
A Southern California native and two-year player at UCLA, Myers originates from one of the hotbeds of the sport in our country. That’s a pretty good start for a guy tasked with scouting. That he’s a young (turned 31 in December), only recently-retired guy who still has friends on active rosters and can build interpersonal connections with a good personality is a way to continue building a scouting network, too.
There’s no data to pass any sort of judgment on either hire, though both look extremely solid on the face of it. Taken in tandem, they certainly indicate that this team is very much Mike Jacobs’s from the technical side of things. (And regular readers should already be very aware that I think that’s a smart choice).
What they do in the next eight months or so before attention fully shifts from the final USL campaign to the inaugural go-round in MLS will be the proof in the pudding.