Thursday morning was a busy one for Nashville SC. The club announced the addition of four new players that will be joining the fray as Music City soccer begins its march toward the first season in the United Soccer League.
All four players were signed with the intent to be defensive contributors. Three of them are traditional defensive position players, while the other is a center-defensive midfielder. Let’s break down these four players and see how they can possibly contribute to the club in the coming weeks and months.
Summary: Akinyode looks like he could be a force in the middle of the park. He has the height to win clearances in midfield and intercept passes from the opposing team looking for a through ball. As evident in the short highlight video provided by Nashville SC, he also has excellent footwork and is a hard player to dispossess, making him a strong candidate to help distribute the ball to advancing players. I expect Akinyode, because of his size and footwork, to make an immediate impact in training sessions and possibly challenge for a starting role.
Player who he’s most like: Manchester City’s Yaya Toure
Summary: Hughes (who has a fantastic Twitter handle, by the way) is more of a traditional defender that seems to have a nose for where the ball is and exceptional at timing his tackles. He already has some professional experience under his belt, after stints with NASL side Atlanta Silverbacks in 2015 and USL member Harrisburg City Islanders in 2016. Nashville SC coach Gary Smith has stated Hughes has lots of energy and a positive attitude, which are some things that cannot be coached.
Player who he’s most like: Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher
Summary: The only thing more frustrating than trying to pronounce DeGraffenreidt’s name correctly is trying to get around him on the pitch. The former Louisville Cardinal had a decorated career, earning second team All-American Athletic Conference honors in 2013 and started in 76 games. He has serious versatility in his game, as he can lineup not only as a center back, but also as an outside back. That could come in handy during training sessions if DeGraffenreidt shows the same defensive tenacity as he did while playing for his collegiate team.
Player who he’s most like: Former Arsenal and Manchester City defender Bacary Sagna.
Summary: It’s no secret that Davis brings the most experience out of the four, with 163 appearances with Minnesota United from 2011-2016 while the club was in the NASL. Interestingly enough, Davis was originally a forward when he played his collegiate career at New Mexico, but slowly started to transition into a back as his professional career got going. Nonetheless, the striker mentality never goes away, as Davis will probably be involved in the attacking fray as the season progresses with his left foot. That shouldn’t, however, dismiss his defensive abilities on the flank.
Player who he’s most like: Former Liverpool defender John Arne Riise.