Photo from file. Tim Sullivan/For Club and Country
Nashville SC signed four players from its USL squad (in addition to those who were playing for the USL team on MLS contracts). One of the fan favorites among that group ended up being the most impactful on the field, as well.
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
17 appearances • 533 minutes
0 goals, 1 shot (0.03 xG)
1 assist, 12 key passes (1.60 xA)
153/207 passing (73.9% • 69.0% expected)
7.5% of touches on-field
+0.10 Goals added per 96 minutes versus average winger
|Taylor Washington 2020|
|Dribbling G+||Fouling G+||Interrupting G+||Passing G+||Receiving G+||Shooting G+|
Washington not only contributed as a winger, it was actually his primary position for many of his appearances for the Boys in Gold. The versatility that he’s shown in the past was used more to demonstrate… that he could play the positions at which he’s spent most of his career, rather than that he could play in a more-advanced role. He was used as a left wingback in a few late-game situations, as well.
You could fairly say that Washington exceeded expectations. Playing primarily the position that he’d converted to is impressive.
Of course, he didn’t provide the offense that you’d typically expect from a winger – and on a team that was lighter on offense than you’d like, that’s a downer. Of course, his use at the position was not primarily for the purpose of creating offense. It’s only fair to grade him against what he was being asked to do, more so than what you might expect a typical winger to be asked to do. He still contributed 0.29 expected assists per 96 minutes played, which was top-15(!!!!!) among wingers. I think you could fairly say being in the Carlos Vela range (0.33 xA/96 mins.) for expected assists provided is pretty good for a defense-first winger. It’s also rather skewed by small sample size, of course.
It’s still pretty good. Washington’s turning 28 this Summer, to the major advances in his game over the past couple years are probably leveling off. But getting just a bit more playing time while being as productive as he was last year would be plenty useful going forward.
I, personally, do not believe Washington is as good a chance-creator as Carlos Vela (it’s a controversial opinion, but I’m willing to die on this hill). Getting more playing time will inevitably mean the per-96 numbers get leveled off with a more reasonable sample size. But for a guy who has always been speedy but lacked offensive polish when he joined Nashville SC, it’s fair to see how hard Washington has worked on his technical skill – particularly ball-striking – in the past couple years and assume he’ll at the very least maintain his level of play, if not the outlier in terms of what that meant statistically last year.
Will he be a full-time winger? Minutes may be a little harder to come by this season with what can only be assumed is more team health (it’d be hard to have a less-healthy season among the position group). However, some of the skills he’s developed are also effective on the overlap from the fullback position, and of course he’s had the defensive prowess to spend most of his career at that position, as well. A little more rotation should give him time there, as well.
He may be a squad player and a guy who’s going to get just a few starts (if any), but it’s easy to see how Washington is at least as effective and useful to the team as he was in his first contributions in MLS.