Nashville SC made a splash in 2019 with a big-money ($450,000) trade for winger David Accam from the Columbus Crew. This may not have worked out as expected!
Although Accam had suffered a couple meager years in Philadelphia (in part due to injury, in part due to a change in philosophy that made him a poor fit for the Union as a true winger in a 4-diamond-2 formation that doesn’t really have use for them), the move to Columbus and his history of success with the Chicago Fire made him an exciting prospect to add to a team that was just starting to come together. A pacey, goal-hungry attacking player was exactly the piece that could take Nashville SC from a pragmatic reputation to a squad that could really put up some goals.
Even though NSC added a number of other winger/forward combo types, the expectation was that Accam would be in the starting rotation, and possibly the second-most important player at the position group behind Randall Leal.
7 appearances • 239 minutes
1 goal, 6 shots (0.81 xG), three on-target
0 assists, 2 key passes (0.19 xA)
38/55 passing (69.1% • 70.5% expected)
6.7% of touches on-field
+0.28 Goals added per 96 minutes versus average winger
|David Accam 2020|
|Dribbling G+||Fouling G+||Interrupting G+||Passing G+||Receiving G+||Shooting G+|
I would like to issue a caveat here that I’m not doing any incomplete grades (as you may have noticed, what with grades for guys who literally did not see the field), and this is a results-based charting service. Accam dealt with injury and personal struggle off the field, and managed less than three full games’ worth of action over the whole year.
THAT SAID, the way he was discussed by some in the NSC fanbase over the course of the year was uncouth-at-best. The “Accam isn’t playing, this was a dumb trade” or “Accam isn’t playing, I’m owed answers about the justification of the expense of his trade,” etc. etc. was a real bad look. This is a guy who lost his home to a tornado while he and his eight-months-pregnant wife were inside it early in the year, then had to deal with a global pandemic with a newborn child, then suffered a series of minor-but-nagging injuries to ankle and knee over the course of the year. Would everyone have liked him to play more? Of course. Should there be a little more understanding that these are human beings and not football robots* that we get to ignore go through physical, mental, family, etc. struggles off the field? Absolutely.
So with that said, even though Accam did ultimately score the first game-winner in the club’s MLS history, it’s fair to be disappointed in (rather than demanding about) his season. In his limited time on the field, he showed well. But availability is an asset – and his particular skillset is one NSC could have used this year – so even though it comes with an asterisk, the grade must be low.
* They’re called soccer robots
In 2021, we will not (inshallah) deal with a tornado that destroys David Accam’s home, we will see the global pandemic mostly controlled in the US early in the MLS season, and hopefully we will see a little more health luck from Accam. Obviously, those are – for now – things that are hoped for, rather than expected in the strictest sense.
IF we get a fully healthy Accam and a fairly normal MLS season, he should be able to be the field-stretching complementary piece on the right side that NSC lacked this year – especially because Abu Danladi suffered through injuries of his own, and also had to be used up top with injuries at the striker position – which saw Gary Smith ultimately go with a defense-first option in Alex Muyl after a mid-season trade with the Red Bulls.
Accam has been a guy who scores double-digit goals and bags a half-dozen assists in a season (not recently, of course). That’s the upside if he can be a first-XI lock. However, more reasonable expectations would involve simple availability to be that spark off the bench, something a little more like 4-5 goals and 3-4 assists. I’m willing to be pleasantly surprised for more production than that (particularly because attacking reinforcements have come and will come), but it truly does seem like the biggest indicator of Accam’s output has more to do with how much he can actually see the field than whether he’ll put up numbers when he gets out there.