Nashville SC

2020 report cards: The never-used and departed

Cameron Lancaster photo by Ryan Lassan Photography/For Club and Country

Nashville SC’s inaugural MLS season was a success. How did the individuals grade out according to the subjective whims of Club Country USA dot com?

Players who actually saw field time will get their own dedicated posts. However, in the name of eliminating redundancy, those who didn’t play for Nashville SC this season will be grouped into two cohorts and discussed together. First, those who never saw the field, and are not returning for the 2021 season.

Goalkeeper CJ Cochran

The expectations: Serve as roster depth for the stretch run of the season on a short-term loan.

What happened: Cochran was a practice player for Nashville SC while on loan, and returned to OKC at the season’s conclusion. The role he was required for wasn’t a visible one, but he filled it.

The grade: A-minus

The future: Thanks to his relationships with Nashville SC manager Gary Smith and goalkeeping coach Matt Pickens (whom he backed up in 2018), it’s likely that Cochran will be on the speed dial for similar situations of need in Music City. If the Boys in Gold need depth – but not necessarily a guy to see the field – the 29-year old could be a pool keeper-esque option.

Tanner Dieterich

The expectations: Signed as a draft pick, the local prospect was pretty much always expected to go out on loan somewhere in USL, and try to make his case for a continuing professional career.

What happened: Dieterich joined Chattanooga Red Wolves, playing in 12 of the team’s 15 games – 941 total minutes. He scored two goals on the year, while the Red Wolves went 6-5-4 and missed the two-team playoff (which was ultimately canceled anyway). He had a big role, but not necessarily a game-changing one for the club.

The grade: B-minus

The future: If Dieterich is interested in continuing his professional soccer career, he should have plenty of options in USL League One or even USL Championship. Excelling at that level could see the 22-year old earn another MLS shot – and if he develops to that degree, the hometown club would always be most intriguing for the former Father Ryan player.

Cameron Lancaster

The expectations: When Lancaster initially signed – prior to the 2019 season – the expectations were very different than they were by the time that injury-plagued year (in an injury-plagued career) wrapped up. The most-likely scenario was that his MLS shot had passed, and Nashville needed to let him do what was best for his future.

What happened: Lancaster returned to the club where he’d spent the majority of his career in the States, Louisville City FC in the USL Championship. He once again found success at that level, finishing third in the Golden Boot with 12 goals. He played 1400 minutes across 19 games, added two assists, and led his team to the Eastern Conference final. LCFC fell to conference champion Tampa Bay Rowdies (whose title game against Phoenix Rising was ultimately scrapped due to COVID-19 concerns).

The grade: B-plus

The future: It’s hard to give Lancaster less than an A grade for what he did – being in the thick of a Golden Boot race is about the best you can do on a season-long loan – but performing at such a high level that a return to MLS was unavoidable was within the realm of possibility, too. As it stands, finishing his career where he’s spent more time than any other club is the endgame.

Brady Scott

The expectations: Signed mid-season as a special discovery player from Germany’s FC Köln, there was no expectation that Scott would contribute to Nashville in 2020, but establishing himself as a potential player for the future during training – and a loan stint elsewhere – was the name of the game.

What happened: Scott went on loan to Sacramento Republic, and only managed to break into the lineup for two appearances (in which he allowed four goals and made two saves in a loss and a draw, both against cellar-dwelling Tacoma Defiance). Getting game reps was good. Being unable to push starter Rafael Díaz harder – or perform better when he got his opportunities – was a disappointment.

The grade: C-minus

The future: Given that Scott was at-best third on the Nashville SC depth chart (behind starter Joe Willis and rookie Elliot Panicco) – and that when NSC needed a third keeper following the departure of Adrian Zendejas, they signed Cochran on loan rather than recalling Scott – there didn’t appear to be much of a future for him in Music City. Indeed, the conspiratorially-minded could say that his primary purpose was to protect Panicco from Austin FC’s expansion draft… in which Scott was ultimately selected, giving NSC $50K in General Allocation Money and protection from the Charlotte FC expansion draft next offseason in the process.

Ken Tribbett

The expectations: One of four players signed in the wind-down of Nashville’s USL franchise (two others, Lancaster and Daniel Ríos, were signed to MLS contracts and loaned to the USL side during the 2019 season), Tribbett was expected to serve as depth on the backline, capable of playing any of the centerback positions, as well as figuring at RB or even CM in a pinch.

What happened: Tribbett didn’t break into the rotation very early in the year (in fairness, Walker Zimmerman played every minute of the first 15 games, while Dave Romney was an ironman for the team, so there was limited opportunity to find minutes anyway), and the calf injury that he’s struggled through for large swathes of his career prevented him from finding that chance later.

The grade: D

The future: The grade may feel harsh, but this is a results-based charting service, and Tribbett was unable to make contributions. He’s talented enough that another MLS team may at least kick the tires – but injury-prone enough that it seems unlikely he signs with one. If he wants to continue his soccer career, a return to USL Championship feels likely. It also feels possible that he moves on to the next phase of his life.

Stay tuned for more-consequential player grades comin’ up.

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