Joe Willis graphic courtesy Nashville SC.
It’s time to continue learning about Nashville SC’s intra-MLS signings. Today, I catch up with Andrés Naranjo of The Foxtrot for the scoop on likely No. 1 keeper Joe Willis.
For Club and Country: What sort of keeper should Nashville SC fans expect? Is Willis a ball-stopper, a guy who controls his box, etc.?
Andrés Naranjo: Joe Willis is the kind of goalkeeper that will contend for the starting spot every week regardless of the depth of the keeper pool in Nashville. Joe is a smart player between the sticks and guarantees to stop the trickiest of shots as long as the back line excels in communication and consistency. Houston in 2019 struggled to find a consistent defensive core but Joe showed up and literally saved the Dynamo in multiple occasions. He can still be vulnerable if Nashville get too comfortable defensively but I am trusting you guys can make it work with your allocation money splash available.
FCAC: He was mostly the first-choice keeper for the Dynamo, what was the keeper battle like between him and Tyler Deric?
AN: Joe was the undisputed starter during 2017. He proved to be a starting-quality goalkeeper after proving his worth on the field while Tyler Deric had to deal with drops in form and domestic violence issues.
FCAC: He’s getting up there in years (albeit not too bad in keeper terms). Has his form begun to fade, or is there still a good few years left in him?
AN: He still has two to three years left in his tank, hopefully more. His form has not shown any type of wear for the past few years and hopefully Nashville can take advantage of it while it lasts.
FCAC: What made the Dynamo willing to part with him? Did they feel like they got a good price from Nashville?
AN: We are still trying to find a concrete answer as to why we offloaded two goalkeepers (Joe Willis and Tyler Deric) this offseason, leaving us with 24-year old Houston-area native Michael Nelson as the only goalkeeper currently listed on the roster. Our theory is that head coach Tab Ramos alongside general manager Matt Jordan are looking to apply a younger keeper corps for the future. As for the trade involving Joe Willis, we received a pretty solid full back in Zarek Valentin and only time will tell if it was worth the cost of our starting goalkeeper.
FCAC: What sort of guy is he personality-wise? Quiet leader, vocal rah-rah guy? What is the perception of him among the fanbase?
AN: He may be quiet sometimes, but he is a player respected by his teammates and fans for showing qualities of a natural leader. Joe is a guy that can get along with everyone in the locker room and delivers professionalism through show-stopping results on the field and community service off the field. After cementing himself in Dynamo lore by helping our team win the 2018 U.S. Open Cup and much more, we hope that Joe can still find success in whatever lies ahead of him.
Many thanks to Andrés for his insight. Follow him on Twitter @DynamicFoxtrot for the latest on the Dynamo.