Danladi graphic courtesy Nashville SC
Nashville SC has signed a ton of players this offseason! Many of them came from within MLS. That includes former Minnesota United striker Abu Danladi.
I caught up with Bridget McDowell, who covers the Loons for MLS Female, to learn a bit more about Danladi.
For Club and Country: What sort of player are Nashville SC fans going to see when he takes the field? Is he a line-stretching forward, a guy who excels in hold-up play, etc.?
Bridget McDowell: Danladi is a shooter and sprinter. He’s not the hold up guy — If he finds himself with the ball outside of the 18, he’ll take the shot rather than wait for a pass. In fact, he often seems more comfortable outside of the box than dribbling around defenders in close quarters. Watch his goals in Atlanta and Montreal for a taste of that.
FCAC: What sort of system best fits his skills?
BM: He needs a midfield that can get him the ball, early and often. He’s not the target man waiting behind the defense (though he can do it on set pieces as illustrated by his game-tying goal vs. Orlando this season) or a holding forward; he’s back with the midfielders, waiting for an open lane to exploit in the chaos. Simply put, he needs opportunities. United’s disheveled midfield couldn’t do that for him in his rare appearances in 2018.
FCAC: Danladi had a pretty good rookie year, but the past two have been a little less successful. What’s behind the slump? Is it something he could break out of?
BM: Danladi was plagued by injuries. It was a known issue when he was drafted, but MNUFC staff were ready to work with him and he was able to show off a bit that first year. 2018 was more difficult: He was able to do some extended rehab while other goalscorers ran hot, but couldn’t get back in the groove when called on late in the season (more a chemistry issue than anything else). He spent the last offseason training in Europe, building muscle and mobility without even touching a ball for months. If given the chance to start a game, I think he could have improved in 2019, but the practice of working players back into the lineup by subbing them on late worked against him. Danladi is not a good late sub or super sub, at least not yet.
FCAC: What made him expendable to MNUFC? Or were they hoping he’d go unselected in the Expansion Draft?
BM: Another work-in-progress striker, Mason Toye, pulled ahead of him. Toye’s success this season made Danladi dead weight on the roster. Had he not been selected, it is likely that they would have parted ways anyway. NSC’s lineup may be able to exploit hist strengths and the change of scenery may be what he needs to boost his confidence after these three rocky seasons.
FCAC: What sort of player is he off the field? Fiery leader, big personality, quiet grinder, guy involved in the community?
BM: I honestly haven’t had much interaction with him since he’s been out of the rotation much of the last two seasons (I’m not able to go to training so match days are often the extent of my interaction with players). He’s a pretty quiet guy, but seems easygoing with his teammates, a sincere smile and friendly jab here and there. Most of his training time the last two years has been in a small group or alone with trainers as he rehabs. He grinds on alone after practice, too. Abu came into the league with that spark in his eye, excited for every aspect of the job — A fresh start in Nashville could reignite that and make him a key piece of the community, on and off the pitch.
Many thanks to Bridget for her local expertise. Follow her work on Twitter @BCMcDowell and @MLSFemale