Nashville SC sign Adem Sipić as first-ever homegrown player

NASHVILLE, TN – In a special press conference at Geodis Park on Tuesday, Nashville SC announced 17-year-old forward Adem Sipić as the first homegrown signing in club history. Sipić will begin playing for Nashville SC in 2024 on a contract through 2027, with a club option for 2028.

A native of Bowling Green, Kentucky, Sipić played with youth club Bowling Green Elite FC before joining Nashville SC’s academy in 2020 at the age of 15. A standout for Nashville SC’s U-17 side, Sipić scored 16 goals in 14 appearances. He earned a shot with the senior team in preseason, starting their match against the US U-20s.

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After impressing Gary Smith, Sipić has featured heavily for Huntsville City FC in MLS NEXT Pro, in between appearances at the academy level. After five appearances off the bench, Sipić started his first professional match on Sunday against St. Louis CITY 2, and scored a goal in a 4-2 win.

In his 180 minutes at the MLS NEXT Pro level (obviously an incredibly small sample size), Sipić ranks 53rd among forwards with -0.07 Goals Added (G+) per 96 minutes. While his dribbling, passing and shooting numbers are all slightly below average, his receiving score stands out as the 10th-best per 96. At just 17 years old, he’s already an adept target man. It makes sense why Gary Smith is already so impressed by him.

From Ronan Briscoe’s academy profile:

Sipić is a classic center forward. He’s big, he’s physical, he’s fast, he’s strong in the air, and he can put away chances when given them. Think of the role that Teal Bunbury has been asked to play since Nashville’s shift to a 4-4-2 diamond. Bunbury is asked to win the first ball, lay it off to one of Hany Mukhtar, Fafa Picault, or Jacob Shaffelburg, and pull the attention of defenders in the box to create space for others, or receive the ball in space and finish quickly.

That’s exactly the skillset Adem Sipić has. Down to the tiniest detail. It’s really no wonder Gary Smith has showered praise on the young striker, he fits the exact mold Smith has been looking for in a striker for years. Of course, Sipic has a lot of growing to do at just 17, but the more time goes on, the more it seems he’ll be doing a lot of it in front of your very eyes.

For Nashville SC’s academy, this is clearly a victory lap. Without the wealth of talent available in markets like Miami, New York, Los Angeles or Texas, and without the established culture of player development in markets like St. Louis, Kansas City or Seattle, they’ve been slower to produce first-team quality players. In fact, before today, Nashville were the only club in MLS to not a homegrown player of their own.

While Nashville have been slower to bring players out of their fledgling academy, Sipić is the first in a group of exciting young players. Eli Wachs made his professional debut last weekend, joining Sipić and Lucas Wolthers as academy products to play for Huntsville. Jake Grekowicz, and Alejandro Carrillo have all been part of matchday squads in Huntsville. Grekowicz and Isaiah Jones, among others, have been regulars in first-team training sessions with Nashville. Their academy is up and running, and Sipić’s signing is just the first wave.

Expectations for Sipić should be tempered in his first year. He’s just 17 years old, and has played just 180 minutes at the professional level. He won’t even begin playing for Nashville SC until next season. But by signing him to a homegrown contract now, Nashville both reward him for his excellent development and ensure that he won’t be poached by a European academy, as happened to Andrei Jahic.

Sipić is still raw, but the tools and talent are evident. He’s an ideal match for Nashville in Gary Smith’s system, and if his development maintains this trajectory, he’ll turn into a contributor at the MLS level before long.

Author: Ben Wrightis the Director of Soccer Content and a Senior MLS Contributor for Broadway Sports covering Nashville SC and the US National Team. Previously Ben was the editor and a founder of Speedway Soccer, where he has covered Nashville SC and their time in USL before journeying to Major League Soccer since 2018. Raised in Louisville, KY Ben grew up playing before a knee injury ended his competitive career. When he is not talking soccer he is probably producing music, drinking coffee or hanging out with his wife and kids. Mastodon

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