Dan Lovitz photo by Tim Sullivan/For Club and Country
Opinions of Dan Lovitz cling to two poles: highly positive for watchers of MLS, and rather negative for fans of the US Men’s National Team.
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
Knowing him primarily as a middle-of-the-road USMNT Player (someone who isn’t going to be a liability in Concacaf, but certainly not inspiring) I was actually surprised to see how positive the MLS-centric takes on Lovitz were. He’d been a lock-starter on some solid Montreal Impact defensive units over the past three seasons, and while he got sparing playing time in the three seasons before that, they were as a member of an elite Toronto FC team.
Nashville SC’s front office clearly placed plenty of value in him, swapping $100K in combined allocation money plus an international slot (at the time, they were going for around $75K, now NSC has set the price at $175K in the 2020-21 offseason) to acquire his services from the Impact. Given a chance to be a solid, stay-at-home left back for a backline that was going to be good-not-great was probably the general expectation.
A tiny bit of involvement in the offense and never being a problem defensively as Nashville had a middle-of-the-road defense was the expectation. Earning maybe 2/3 of the minutes with Taylor Washington and Jalil Anibaba combining to cover the rest (with each of them – Washington at wing and Anibaba across the backline – earning more of their playing time elsewhere) would have been a solid contribution.
24 appearances • 2384 minutes
1 goal, 11 shots (0.55 xG), 2 on-target
2 assists, 32 key passes (2.22 xA)
893/1293 passing (69.1% • 68.7% expected)
10.7% of touches on-field
+0.15 Goals added per 96 minutes versus replacement fullback
|Dan Lovitz 2020|||||||||
|Dribbling G+||Fouling G+||Interrupting G+||Passing G+||Receiving G+||Shooting G+|
I think it’d be fair to say Lovitz exceeded expectations in two ways: for one, he was a lock-starter when available for Nashville SC (Washington played almost exclusively on the wing or at wingback in five-man backline setups, plus the occasional spell for Lovitz, while Anibaba played more at other places on the backline). Secondly, the Nashville SC defense outperformed even the most rosy expectations – and he was a big part of that.
The expectation for Lovitz’s limited offensive contributions indeed came to fruition: his lone goal came in the regular-season finale against Orlando City (crucial timing for your only goal!), while his assists came on a cross and a relatively innocuous recycling pass that Jhonder Cádiz hit from 25 yards. That may even have been a bit more than we were expecting offensively.
One (the only?) major ding against him is that he was the only Nashville SC player to suffer a suspension for accumulating yellow cards. Hardly the biggest problem in the world, and had it not come for a simple win (over DC United – though that proved to be a little less simple than expected), it could have been considered more impactful.
Lovitz is turning 30 in August. While it may have taken him four-ish years to show who he is at the MLS level, by this point we know what we’re getting. His game isn’t going to change significantly in this stage of his career. Getting the same sort of contributions from him as Nashville bumps up its team success incrementally is about what the upside is going to look like.
That said, now that Nashville’s systems are installed and there’s some chemistry built among the teammates, he can take some small steps forward. Getting into more-advanced positions offensively – while still being sound enough to recover defensively against counter-attacks – is probably the primary thing he can do differently (or better?) than last season. Indeed, turning down shooting attempts a level or two and becoming more dangerous as a feeder (even if some of those feeds come via the cross – as the primary left-footed corner-taker, that’s gonna continue to be the case) could help the team’s overall success.
Nashville has a chance to put the league’s best defense on the pitch after coming reasonably close as an expansion team last year. Lovitz will be a crucial part of that. Also becoming a crucial part of taking the offense into a top-half output (NSC was 22nd last season) would come with more team success and not require too much more of Lovitz.