Nashville SC

Nashville SC officially signs Irakoze Donasiyano

Donasiyano photo by Mike Riley/courtesy UVA Athletic Media Relations

A long time coming for the first-round SuperDraft pick, whose final college season was certainly not bound to continue into the NCAA Tournament. From Club release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 28, 2021) – Nashville Soccer Club announced today it has signed 2021 First Round Major League Soccer SuperDraft selection Irakoze Donasiyano to an MLS contract. Donasiyano, who has been training with the club for over two weeks, was selected from the University of Virginia on Jan. 21 with the No. 20 overall pick and Nashville SC’s first selection in the 2021 SuperDraft, presented by adidas. Donasiyano is signed through 2021 with the option to extend each year through the 2024 season.

“Koze has a lot of positive attributes that really mesh well with our team,” said Nashville SC General Manager Mike Jacobs. “His athleticism and work-rate help him cover a lot of ground on both sides of the ball, and he has a tremendous attitude and energy that make him a real competitor. His versatility enables him to play multiple roles in the group as well.”

With the signing, Donasiyano becomes the first player from the Nashville’s 2021 Draft Class to sign a professional contract.

At the collegiate level, Donasiyano played four seasons at Virginia, including a condensed 2020/21 campaign. The No. 20 overall pick appeared in 65 matches for the Cavaliers, with 56 starts and logged 5,247 minutes in route to a Third Team All-ACC selection in 2019.

Donasiyano became one of four players to play every match in the last two seasons for the Cavaliers. The midfielder scored both goals in a 2-0 win over Pacific University on opening night in 2019 and became the first Cavalier with a brace in a season opener since 2009.

Nashville SC release

You can see his exploits as a college senior by taking a look at Boys in Not Gold, and here’s some of what I’ve written about his game having watched what was available at the time he was draft, and then every game that was available this season:

The first thing that pops – and sort of it’s a weird first thing to stand out, which is what makes it so notable – is his balance. He takes some contact and maintains his footing regularly, using a hand on the ground only when necessary. He can slither through traffic by using a body lean to get under or around the opponent, and he gets back to his running posture almost immediately when the coast is once again clear. Although he’s a really skinny guy, he’s able to use his physicality to win individual battles because he knows he’s the one who’s going to be upright at the end of them.

One of the ways he uses that ability is by being willing to turn away from the most immediate threat in traffic, twisting to protect the ball, then when the player overreacts to that initial movement, turning back the way he came to find open space. He’s comfortable using that skillset out wide, too, but doesn’t have the pure 1-v-1 ability to take guys on and win dribbles in a straight line like an MLS-level winger. 

Feb. 12, 2021

See the rest of what I’ve written about him here.

“Koze” played primarily as a wingback or a left back in a 4-3-3 during Virginia’s spring season. The first-choice plan for him in Nashville is to play as a right back, though obviously the range of positions he’s played in college and the versatility in his skillset mean there’s flexibility as the staff continues to work with him and develop his game.

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