Judge photo courtesy James Madison University.
From Club release:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (June 17, 2021) – Nashville Soccer Club announced today it has signed 2021 Major League Soccer SuperDraft selections Tom Judge and Tor Saunders through 2021 with the option to extend each year through the 2024 season. The draftees join classmate Irakoze Donasiyano who signed with the club on April 28.
“Tom and Tor are both players that we feel have the potential to grow and develop into roles with our club,” said Nashville SC General Manager Mike Jacobs. “Tom is an athletic left-sided defender who gets up and down and involved on both sides of the ball. Tor has impressed in the time we had tracked him prior to selecting him in the SuperDraft and has continued to show well during training.”
Judge, was originally selected from James Madison University on Jan. 21 as Nashville SC’s first selection in the Second Round of the 2021 SuperDraft, presented by adidas. Following the draft, the defender returned to JMU for his senior season where he was named MAC Hermann Trophy Semifinalist as he led the Bulldogs to a 5W-1L-1D record, a goal differential of plus seven and five shutouts.
Judge finished his career with 63 appearances, three goals and four assists while also being selected as a United Soccer Coaches First Team All-American, the United Soccer Coaches All-Atlantic Region First Team, College Soccer News First Team All-American, and TopDrawer Soccer Second Team Best XI. As a junior for the Bulldogs, Judge was named First Team All-Atlantic Region and First Team All-CAA.
Saunders was selected by Nashville SC in the Third Round of the 2021 MLS SuperDraft from Coastal Carolina University where he earned All-Sun Belt honors and was named the Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year. The goalkeeper started 15 matches for the Sun Belt this season, logging six clean sheets through an 8W-5L-2D record.
Saunders’ 2021 season also earned him a place in the MAC Hermann Watch List as he was named to the Senior Class Award First-Team All-American, the Sun Belt Conference Championship All-Tournament Team and was awarded the Most Outstanding Player.Nashville SC release
There are no surprises here (I noted a while ago that Saunders could be seen in the team’s training-session videos), with three of NSC’s top four draft picks having signed (the exceptions are defender Sondre Norheim – picked one spot ahead of Saunders at No. 73 overall – and forward Leroy Enzugusi). Three option years for each of them gives NSC both some security and a ton of flexibility.
I would anticipate Saunders gets a couple bench appearances in a rotation with backup keeper Bryan Meredith, then gets the loan-out treatment next year (the same trajectory Elliot Panicco has taken in his first two years with the club) in anticipation of being a true contributor in Year Three as a pro. Judge could provide a bit of depth this year, and at the very least I’d bet on his seeing the field earlier than Saunders.
You can see recaps from their exploits in college at their respective tags: Judge, Saunders. I also saw Judge play in person, and spoke with each of their coaches about the professional futures they foresee for their alums.