Nashville SC beefed up its defensive corps in the Expansion Draft back in November in the form of former New England Revolution defender Jalil Anibaba. I caught up with Trifecta Sports Network founder Tanner Rebelo for the lowdown on Anibaba’s game.
For Club and Country: Generally, what sort of player are Nashville SC fans going to see when Anibaba takes the field? Is he strictly a centerback, positionally versatile, etc.?
Tanner Rebelo: Jalil can play center and left-back and is considered a versatile defender. On the pitch Anibaba wears his emotions on his sleeve and his celebrations after blocking shots endeared him with fans in New England. Offensively there isn’t much there but he has at times shown off a rocket of a shot and can use his head on set piece situations. The previously mentioned blocking ability is his bread and butter.
FCAC: Anibaba wasn’t a full-time starter for the Revs – particularly this past season – what was he lacking that prevented him from seeing more of the field? Was there a split in his time between the Friedel and Arena regimes, or was his time consistent across the two?
TR: Anibaba was typically the next man up type of player with the Revolution. If a player went down with injury he was typically the player who would come in and see playing time. Under Arena Anibaba’s playing time came down a bit. This was mostly attributed to Arena figuring out the roster as a whole and was touch and go with the Revolution needing to pick up every point to make the MLS playoffs.
FCAC: What was it that made the Revs consider him expendable? Or were they hoping he’d make it through the Expansion Draft unselected?
TR: New England was poised for an uptick in roster turnover with Arena now able to put more of his touches on the overall roster. With New England’s goal being to compete for MLS Cup titles in the future seasons there was a need to improve their roster. On the backline the Revs had locked down for 2020 Brandon Bye, Michael Mancienne, DeJuan Jones, Antonio Delamea, Andrew Farrell, and Alexander Buttner. With that being said this set up for the veteran Anibaba to be reserved once again to a bench type role. With Nashville he will have the opportunity to see more playing time.
FCAC: What’s Anibaba’s reputation off the field? Is he a quiet “head down, do the job” sort of guy, or more of a big personality?
TR: Off the field Anibaba was a leader in the locker room and was well liked by his teammates. Always came across as a professional with the media and was overall very well liked by fans.
Many thanks to Tanner for his insight into Anibaba’s game. Follow him on Twitter @TannerRebelo for everything New England Revolution.
Anibaba photo courtesy New England Revolution.