Winn photo from the USL days from file. Ryan Lassan Photography/For Club and Country
One of four USL players signed after the conclusion of the 2019 Nashville SC season, winger Alan Winn was considered perhaps the highest-upside of the bunch.
Other editions: No minutes and gone • No minutes and back • Jimmy Medranda • Brayan Beckeles • Handwalla Bwana • Jack Maher • David Accam • Alan Winn • Matt LaGrassa • Eric Miller • Derrick Jones • Jhonder Cádiz • Taylor Washington • Abu Danladi • Jalil Anibaba • Dominique Badji • Daniel Ríos • Tah Brian Anunga • Alex Muyl • Hany Mukhtar • Aníbal Godoy • Alistair Johnston • Randall Leal • Dax McCarty • Dan Lovitz • Walker Zimmerman • Dave Romney • Joe Willis
Winn opted for Nashville SC’s inaugural USL side instead of the Colorado Rapids team that picked him in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft. He almost-immediately proved to be a high-level USL Championship (then just known as “USL”) winger, and given his age – 24 entering the first MLS year – the opportunity to develop him into a guy who could be a top performer at a higher grade of competition was palpable.
There was no guarantee any of the four “USL promotions” would continue their time with the MLS franchise, but Winn seemed one of the most likely. With the other winger talent coming in, some depth minutes and a chance to turn those into a major role and an exercised option was certainly within reach.
7 appearances • 280 minutes
0 goals, 4 shots (0.21 xG), 1 on-target
0 assists, 0 key passes
93/124 passing (75.0% • 77.1% expected)
9.6% of touches on-field
-0.02 Goals added per 96 minutes versus average winger
|Alan Winn 2020|
|Dribbling G+||Fouling G+||Interrupting G+||Passing G+||Receiving G+||Shooting G+|
As with David Accam, Winn’s on-field production is hard to separate out from off-field factors that had an impact on his playing time. He impressed (including with a sweet nutmeg) in an appearance in the season opener, but didn’t make the trip to Portland thereafter. The world shut down for several months (you may have heard), and from there, his only playing time came in a six-game stretch when Nashville’s depth situation across the entire frontline was bordering on dire.
Whether or not it was the primary reason for his lack of playing time, he was not always a popular guy among teammates. Winn’s refusal to kneel for the National Anthem in his lone MLS start against Columbus probably doesn’t tell the full story of his unpopularity in the locker room. But given how other Nashville SC players reacted in the lens of racial injustice issues in the country, you can imagine that it certainly didn’t help. Obviously he’s not compelled to do something he doesn’t believe in. But he’s also not entitled to playing time in Major League Soccer, and “freedom of speech” is not synonymous with “freedom from others not liking what you say, and reacting accordingly.”
All told, though, the reasons Winn didn’t get more playing time are ultimately irrelevant: as I’ve said with previous editions in this series: there’s always a level of performance at which you force yourself onto the field. Winn didn’t reach it.
It will be interesting to see if Winn finds another MLS opportunity. He has the talent, though he’s getting up there in age for a domestic player yet to make a breakthrough. I would imagine he finds a USL Championship home that gives him the opportunity to play a central role in his team’s attack, and tries to be so good that he parlays a year back in the second division into another MLS opportunity
Perhaps there’s a team out there that would take a chance on giving him another Major League Soccer shot this offseason. Given that it hasn’t happened yet, and the offseason is (somehow) already starting to wind down, it would probably come with a preseason trial.