mls Nashville SC USMNT

Pitch Points puts a bow on the year

As we’re all on #PineiroWatch2020 – surely publishing a story to get immediately buried will help force things along, so I’m doing my part – let us take a look around the world of Nashville SC and beyond.

Season denouement

MLSSoccer’s Greg Seltzer has a breakout player from the playoffs for each participant. Nashville’s Alistair Johnston and Tah Brian Anunga may not be a particularly surprising option for you, except inasmuch as that’s two breakout players:

Thanks to his forceful work rate, Anunga suddenly emerged in the playoffs as a very difficult central midfielder for even the best teams to play against. Johnston had started all but two regular season games at right back, but made good use of the bigger spotlight by raising his two-way game in the playoffs.

Both were essential in all but completely shutting down Toronto FC and in taking Columbus to extras scoreless. In fact Nashville did not concede a single goal in the 193 postseason minutes played by Anunga, who brilliantly covered for Anibal Godoy against some of the league’s top midfielders.

Speaking of Anunga and season debriefs, the good ol’ Armchair Analyst with some insight.

OFFSEASON PRIORITY: You can see a theme in the players to build around, right? All four starting defenders and the starting goalkeeper are in there, and both d-mids would be next on the list if I were to extend it to seven. I do worry about Godoy’s injury history and McCarty’s age — he turns 34 early next season and has logged a ton of miles over the past decade — but Nashville already have good depth at that spot including, in Anunga, a guy who could end up being more than just depth.

Almost the entirety of the attack is an open question.

I’m with Doyle in that regard. I do think that Nashville’s international attackers are bound for better MLS careers than you might expect in a vacuum. “But every other team’s new DPs also had to deal with a pandemic!” ignores the fact that every other team’s DPs weren’t stepping into a new squad that began with no chemistry in the first place (and the only other team in that situations had 1) much more expensive/recognized designated players, who 2) performed at a much lower level than Nashville’s DPs). Certainly there’s roster flexibility to add more attacking talent, and it’s one that the NSC front office won’t pass on, but “those guys weren’t good enough” seems like premature judgment at this point. Maybe Hany Mukhtar and Randall Leal ultimately turn out to be MLS busts. But assuming as much based on 2020 is unfair.

It’s obviously dated now, but British MLS on Nashville SC’s season. … NSC involved in one of the best moments of the playoffs. … The best long-range shots of the year includes Dan Lovitz‘s strike against Orlando in the regular-season finale, but somehow not Leal’s playoff bomb. Let’s just embed that one for good measure.

The profiles

Let’s get some local fluff from New York. First, on Taylor Washington from the Hudson Valley.

Then on GM Mike Jacobs from also up the river. Did you know: both of these places are farther “up the river” than the place that is the origin of the phrase “up the river” (Sing Sing Correctional Facility)? Never say I don’t mix in fun facts, folks.

“Because of my dad’s influence, I was always enthusiastic about coaching,” he said, “but as I grew up I became interested in building teams. I followed the local beat writers and sports talk shows, paid attention to all the moves and decisions the teams were making and how the rosters were put together. I got swept up in that stuff.”

Poughkeepsie Journal

Listen man, nerds can be cool, too. Depending on how strictly you define “cool.”

WKRN on Jalil Anibaba‘s role with Black Players for Change.

Hendersonville mayor Jamie Clary has been to every MLS Cup final. Here’s a story in the Washington Post.

Clary’s soccer passion sprouted in childhood. He was a member of Hendersonville High’s 1986 state championship team. In 2007, he published a soccer trivia book. Yawn is a native of Tupelo, Miss., where “soccer wasn’t the most popular sport,” he said with a laugh. His family moved to Hendersonville when he was 13. Clary coached him at the club level. Both are season ticket holders for Nashville SC, which entered MLS this year.

“Soccer was the window into my friend network,” Yawn said. “Some of my best friends then and now are through soccer. It’s the great connector.”

Washington Post

The Pharma Boys also caught up with Clary.

The Boys in Red White and Blue

I’m not going to run through every El Salvador postgame – especially two weeks removed from the friendly – but a couple reviews of note never hurt anyone. (And of course you can see my rundown of Walker Zimmerman’s brief showing).


The US traded jabs with El Salvador early on. El Salvador was in a well-organized mid-block defense with their forward José Ramos shadowing Jackson Yueill. Carlos de los Cobos had done a little homework and thought he could disrupt the US attack by disrupting the flow from the US’s deep-lying playmaker.

What will the next-paragraph twist be!?

And the always-excellent Brian Sciaretta for American Soccer Now:

The U.S. national team pool remains very competitive on the wings with Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna (who might settle centrally), Jordan Morris, Konrad de la Fuente, Uly Llanez, and others making a strong case right now. But next year with the Olympics, the Nations League , and the Gold Cup taking place, Mueller is in a good position to continue to get looks at some point. Then it will be up to him.

I’ve been a Chris Mueller Guy for a little while, but running through that list of names… well, it wouldn’t upset me if he was never a USMNT regular in the most-meaningful games on the schedule.

The Nashville Knights

Nashville Knights FC, a new club whose top level participates in the UPSL – tier 5 in the United States, a level below NPSL – has arrived. Hit ’em with a follow on your social platforms of choice.

The UPSL team boasts a full international! La Vergne’s Giovanni Padron has been called up for Puerto Rico’s January camp (he also played in the 2019 Concacaf Nations League games). Obviously a US territory with 3 million people is not exactly a world power – PR is currently 25th in Concacaf in the FIFA rankings – but there are some reasonably recognizable names on that list of teammates (erstwhile Nashville SC defender Zarek Valentin among them).

On the extreme opposite end of the spectrum, Chuy Reyes, a member of the Knights (and a youth coach within the Knights organization) was murdered outside his home in Antioch last week. If you can help support his family – or identify his killer – please do so.


Nashville SC is working with consulting firm Excel Sports Management to sell the naming rights to its stadium. Ian Ayre says the team has already turned down an offer that wasn’t lucrative enough. … Nashville SC donated Kurdish-language masks in the local community. … The Scene‘s Steve Cavendish with some numbers of note at the conclusion of the season. … USMNT winger Gio Reyna on loss and growth in Players’ Tribune. They’ve really got to not have the same person ghost-write every one of these articles, man. Every athlete does not write with the same tone and using the same expressions. … Kids be textin‘.

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