Nashville SC

Nashville SC roster decisions: The predictions

Mike Meredith/Club and Country

#HotTimWinter is officially upon us. Either today or Sunday, Nashville SC will be announcing its postseason roster decisions – who remains under contract with NSC, whose contract options are picked up (or declined), who is engaged in negotiating a new contract, and who will be permitted to walk.

These are the predictions for that news. In alphabetical order…

  • Midfielder Brian Anunga – under contract (or option exercised). He was extended after last season, so NSC at the very least has an option year and more likely has him on a guaranteed contract for 2023.
  • Defender Josh Bauer – option declined. He got extremely sparing playing time, and while he’s on a cap-friendly salary, there are other players out there – including possibly even in the Draft – who could make similar money and seemt o be trending more toward future contributions.
  • Forward Teal Bunbury – option exercised. Signed last offseason, setting down roots… also on a fairly cheap budget number for a player with his tenure and history in the league.
  • Winger Handwalla Bwana – option exercised. Since he’s only 23, Nashville can fit him into one of the roster slots reserved for Homegrown players. They need guys who can do that (and of course he’s always been in favor at the club when healthy).
  • Defender Robert Castellanos – option exercised. He may actually need a new contract – NSC exercised an option on him last year – but either way, he’s on a cheap budget hit and the club loaned him out to get time last year. That’s an indication they see a future for him in Nashville.
  • Midfielder Sean Davis – under contract. I would imagine he was not coming to Nashville for just a one-year deal.
  • Midfielder Irakoze Donasiyano – option exercised. Similar to Castellanos, the club worked hard to get him minutes with a loan last year – and he performed well in USL. Likely a sign that he’s one for the future.
  • Defender Ahmed Longmire – under contract. While contract lengths for the two rookies were not announced, they’re typically two years for guys that the club sees as prospects for the future.
  • Midfielder Aníbal Godoy – under contract. Extended after last season.
  • Winger Luke Haakenson – option declined. While he was an attacking bright spot last season, he’s aging out of reserve-minimum salary, and his contributions could be replaceable – or improved upon – on the market.
  • Winger Randall Leal – under contract. Extended after last season.
  • Striker Ake Loba – under contract. His contract is guaranteed through 2023. While Nashville may explore options to move him, for the time being, he’s a member of the squad.
  • Defender Daniel Lovitz – under contract. Extended after last season.
  • Defender Jack Maher – Re-signed to new contract. He graduates from the Generation Adidas program this year, so NSC will have to get a standard deal in place. I have a batty conspiracy theory about him (involving the establishment of a club in his hometown) that is a subject for another post.
  • Midfielder Dax McCarty – option exercised. Extended after last season, he’ll likely stick around Nashville until retirement at this point.
  • Goalkeeper Bryan Meredith – option declined. With Elliot Panicco proving his potential as a second – and future first – keeper last year, the third slot can be filled by a prospect. One possible reason to pick up his option is that he’s a league vet on a senior-minimum salary, though.
  • Goalkeeper Will Meyer – option declined. Meyer is a different physical build than NSC’s preferred keepers – I was pleasantly surprised when he signed after being drafted last year – and didn’t get the “loan to get minutes” treatment you’d have expected if there were plans for him to stick around ini the future.
  • Defender Eric Miller – out of contract. Miller agreed to a one-year deal with him before 2021, and picked up the 2022 option last offseason. The standing position of this site is that he gets more grief than he deserves from the fanbase… but his production can be replaced at a cheaper budget point, particularly with Shaq Moore in the mix as a nailed-on starter.
  • Defender Shaq Moore – under contract. He signed with Nashville SC through the 2025 season with a 2026 option.
  • League MVP Hany Mukhtar – under contract. I would imagine he’s sticking around for a minute, yeah?
  • Winger Alex Muyl – option declined. This was a tough one. I like Muyl’s game, and Nashville SC management has not made any secrets about feeling the same way. But if NSC is going to take another step as a franchise, wingers with more attacking acumen are going to be required. Given that Moore’s signing likely means less “throw a try-hard winger at wingback” tactically, it’s hard to justify a price tag north of $300k. If NSC can negotiate him down to a smaller salary, a new contract is possible.
  • Goalkeeper Elliot Panicco – option exercised/re-signed. Panicco had an option picked up last year. It’s unclear whether he has another one or will need to sign a new contract (likely with a raise)… but either way I don’t see NSC letting him go.
  • Winger Rodrigo Piñeiro – under contract. Piñeiro’s contract is guaranteed through 2023… it will be interesting to see if NSC sells him permanently, loans him out again, or tries to give him another go in MLS. I don’t really see a path that sees him stay in Nashville, but the specifics of the mechanism are for another post.
  • Defender Dave Romney – under contract. Romney was listed as “under contract” in last year’s release, and he’s not listed on MLSPA’s free agency list… ergo the contract has at least one more guaranteed year.
  • Striker CJ Sapong – option declined. This is a tough one because people like CJ on a personal level… and his struggles to score this year probably don’t say much about what he’d pull off next year. But the name of the game is scoring goals, and he didn’t do enough of iit to justify a salary over $500k (or whatever that converts to in DogeCoin). Nashville has not shied away from making budget moves at striker – Sapong himself was one when he signed – and it could be a search for similar or better production at a cheaper price point. Or much better production at a similar or higher price point.
  • Defender Taylor Washington – option declined/out of contract. This is an extremely difficult one on a personal level for most fans because Taylor is one of the best dudes on the planet. But it does feel like an offseason to identify a future prospect at LB rather than a vet.
  • Goalkeeper Joe Willis – option exercised. He’s not gonna be around forever, but at least one more year as Nashville transitions from Willis to Panicco for the long term seems likely.
  • Defender Walker Zimmerman – under contract. I would imagine it takes a massive (European) offer for Zimmerman to do anything short of finishing his career in Nashville.
  • Striker Ethan Zubak – option exercised. Relatively cheap, high-potential goal scorer. Plus they’re not gonna cut a dude whose apartment just burned down.

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