Jacobs (left) with club CEO Ian Ayre. Courtesy Nashville SC media relations
Nashville SC general manager Mike Jacobs joined Major League Soccer’s in-house podcast last week for some discussion of new MLS signing Hany Mukhtar. Jacobs also provided a few other items of note for Nashville SC fans. Subscribe and listen to the podcast for the full interview (the quotes below are not comprehensive).
On Hany Mukhtar, and why he was the right fit for Nashville SC
“The reality is, when you look at best practices and you look at the idea of where 10s or 9s come from, in most cases, they’re not coming from within MLS. If you look at the top 20 in goals scored last year in MLS, 19 of those 20 players were either DP or TAM guys, with the exception of Daniel Salloi who was a homegrown for Sporting Kansas City.”
“It wasn’t only someone who we felt could create and finish scoring chances, but it also was also someone who could be more of like a universal-type player, more of a two-way-type player – both on and off the ball as far as his workrate. When you look at guys who have done really well in our league in that that role, I think very quickly Hany started to kind of filled the bill for us. … We thought that his skillset and the things he offered, and really his fit as far as the things we were looking for was really kind of a natural for us.”
On the impact of flying Mukhtar in a private jet
“We want to be looked at in the marketplace as someone who’s going to have high expectations for how we treat our players. I think what’s really encouraging was not only does it hopefully show how significant someone like Hany is, but I think to other potential prospects, and to their agents. The feedback we’ve gotten, I think people want to be treated like Hany, be given the opportunities like he’s been given.”
What are the next pieces for Nashville
“They all kind of fit together. We’ve got a couple more signings that could happen here over the next month. Because we don’t currently play in MLS, we’re not acquiring players for this season, so even though our window is closed, we’re still very actively involved in signing players [effective] January 1, and I think you will see over the next month or two, some more signings to be announced that hopefully fans and media will appreciate.”
Will we see a second designated player signing before the MLS Expansion Draft?
“It’s possible. I don’t want to create a timetable for us, but I would expect to see at least one DP signing prior to the start of the season.”
Some of the specific talking points from Jacobs weren’t necessarily newsworthy (for example, it’s not revelatory that Mukhtar is a modern box-to-box No. 10), but seeing how he fits into the team’s mindset from a front-office and technical-staff perspective certainly enlightens us as to what they’re thinking in putting together the rest of the inaugural MLS roster.
The private jet factor is interesting primarily in that it’s somehow not league-standard for clubs signing players from overseas. If that’s a way Nashville can separate itself from other MLS clubs in the global talent market (others: nightlife in Nashville as a selling point, no state income tax, etc.), then more power to them.
Speaking of that future build… Jacobs was very clear (as implied by CEO Ian Ayre and owner John Ingram several weeks ago) that the team plans to continue adding talent for signings in the January transfer window. The likelihood of a second DP before the season begins may not be the most exciting – it should be the expectation, not an above-and-beyond move – but confirmation that the club will continue to be ambitious is comforting. Looking forward to more signings in the following couple months will provide not just current USL fans, but potential future MLS fans some morsels before the year begins.
There’s plenty more context and small tidbits in the interview (including the unsaid-but-implied “defensively-oriented players can be acquired domestically); again I encourage you to check it out if that’s something you might be interested in.