It’s been in the works for quite some time now, and Nashville SC appears to have gotten the deal over the line: Colombian centerback Miguel Nazarit is the newest addition to the Boys in Gold.
The 22-year old previously played in his domestic league for Once Caldas. His club finished in 10th place in the Apertura season, outside the playoff positions. The season wrapped up in late October. Nazarit got 959 minutes in 13 appearances, 10 of them starts, and made the bench 21 more times. The players primarily starting over him were 34-year old Diego Peralta and 35-year old Andrés Felipe Correa. They led the team by a wide margin with over 3100 and 2700 minutes, respectively.
At 6-1, he’s a solidly-built central defender, and at just 22, there’s not only room for him to continue developing, but potentially sell-on value in the long term. Nazarit has history in the Colombian National Team system, most recently for a U-23 camp in August – something that also improves sell-on value if he continues to develop.
His most recent highlight reel available on Youtube is more than two years old, so while you can expect he’s developed in that time, certainly there’s an idea of what sort of player he is:
Nazarit really relishes physical play (even though he wasn’t the biggest, burliest guy as a 20-year old), bodying up opposing forwards and being willing to step in to win balls through upper-body contact. Even though he’s not the biggest, he can get up and win aerial balls, with his ability and willingness to draw contact helping him get to the ball first.
He’s got good enough ball skills that you could see him playing in a possession-based, play-out-of-the-back system (even though it seems like Nashville is building its roster more around a wing-oriented plan). There actually isn’t a ton of him hitting that big diagonal pass that we’re used to seeing from NSC centerbacks to the winger (or an overlapping fullback) or striker, which is a little interesting. He does show off some leg strength on his clearances, so again, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, especially with a two-year gap since last we saw him play.
He likes to step forward defensively (whether to win a header, try to cut out a pass early, etc.) and has decent ability to turn and track back with speed. However, decision-making in those instances could use some improvement, because he can leave his keeper a little exposed at times – it’s likely that’s an area of his game that has improved in the past couple years.
I’ve advocated in the past for NSC to sign players from Colombia, because they seem to translate well to MLS, though mostly in reference to Cali – coincidentally, Nazarit’s hometown club – rather than Once Caldas where he plays. I do know that the area in which he’s currently playing is considered a pretty rough one, so hopefully the transition to MLS will be an improvement on the personal front, as well as the next phase in his professional development.