Nashville SC fans are familiar with the Expansion Draft process. Just a year ago, Nashville selected five players and announced a pair of trades in front of a packed crowd at Ole Red.
Tonight’s expansion draft will look a lot different. Newcomers Austin FC will make their picks from their draft headquarters at the Fairmont Hotel with no fans present.
Nashville released their list of protected players yesterday afternoon. Of the players available, who could Claudio Reyna and Austin potentially be interested in?
Anibaba is a versatile and experienced defender, capable of playing anywhere across the backline. The 32-year-old played 653 minutes in 13 appearances for Nashville last season, playing both as a right-back and a center-back as well as wearing the armband a couple times.
More important than his on-field prowess is his leadership off the field. A ten-year MLS veteran, he’s a founder of the Black Players for Change coalition that was named the MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year. As Nashville SC can attest, getting a player like Anibaba in your locker room in year one is invaluable.
Gary Smith and the rest of Nashville SC will certainly hope Austin passes on Anibaba. He’s not a player you want to lose.
Another MLS veteran, Badji started the season as Nashville’s first choice striker, and is able to play on either wing as well as through the middle. The 28-year-old struggled to score goals, with just one goal in 788 minutes, but his underlying numbers were decent. He averaged 0.41 expected goals + expected assists (xG+xA) per 96 minutes, the second best tally of available Nashville players.
Badji made 12 appearances for Nashville in 2020, and is a solid depth player on a budget, which is what teams tend to look for in expansion drafts.
Washington impressed in his first MLS season. After joining from Nashville’s USL side, the left-back made 17 appearances for Nashville in their expansion season, including a pair of starts.
At 27, he’s in his prime, and is a reliable depth player with the potential to be a starting-quality left-back. Miami have already acquired Ben Sweat at left-back, but Washington could be an interesting depth piece.
Danladi is a player Nashville will want to keep. The forward scored twice in 644 minutes for Nashville. Able to play centrally and through the middle, he’s a pacey and direct player who can stretch the field and change the game off the bench.
Injuries have majorly impacted his career, and in Nashville it was no different. However, he’s consistently effective when on the field, and as we saw last season, he has value as a flier pick in an expansion draft.
This is an interesting one. Accam is one of the more expensive players available for selection, getting paid over $1 million in 2019. His 2020 season was a disappointment as well, with the winger managing just 239 minutes in seven matches.
However, Accam was quite good when he got on the field, scoring a goal and racking up a solid goals added total.
Top available players in the Expansion Draft, per @AnalysisEvolved's Goals Added above replacement metric (min. 200 minutes, per 96)— Ben Wright (@benwright) December 14, 2020
1. David Accam (30), NSH – 0.28
2. Patrick Seagrist (20), NYRB – 0.26
3. Wyatt Omsberg (25), CHI – 0.25
4. Fredy Montero (33), VAN – 0.25
On one hand, he has a big budget charge, he’s 30 years old, and his last couple seasons have been incredibly inconsistent.
On the other hand, he’s a former designated player who was acquired for $450k just a year ago, he’s one of the fastest players in the league, and he’s still pretty good on the pitch.
Expansion drafts have typically been about finding depth pieces who won’t impact a team’s roster budget too much, but getting Accam for free is an intriguing option.
From a Nashville perspective, they paid a big chunk of money to acquire Accam just a year ago. If he’s selected, they’ll recoup just $50k of that fee. They’ll also get protection in next year’s draft, but in all it’s not a great tradeoff.
As disappointing as Accam’s 2020 season was, he’s still a solid player who had to deal with a lot off of the pitch this season. He should be significantly better in 2021, and Nashville will certainly hope he’s not selected.