Fafà Picault: 2023 report card

We’re continuing our 2023 report card series with Fafà Picault, who was dynamic and dangerous in his debut season with Nashville SC.

2023 Grade: A

2023 by the numbers

Matches played: 38 (8th on Nashville SC)
Minutes played: 2,437 (11th on Nashville SC)
Goals: 9 (2nd on Nashville SC)
Assists: 2 (T-6th on Nashville SC)
Goal contributions per 96 minutes: 0.43 (4th on Nashville SC)

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2023 in review

Picault joined Nashville in the offseason with a reputation as a veteran attacking midfielder with pace who provides consistent output in front of goal. His 2023 season in Nashville will only solidify that status. 

Few players in Nashville SC history have managed to rack up double digit G+A figures in a season. The topline stats alone are enough to earn the self-proclaimed “Gazelle” high marks, but Picault brought all kinds of things to this team that don’t show up in the box score.

As is a prerequisite for all Gary Smith players, Picault’s work rate out of possession was always top notch. But was a breath of fresh air to Nashville fans in so many other ways: he has the ability (and equally importantly, the courage) to carry the ball out of difficult situations, to attempt to link up with teammates and progress upfield through one-two passes, and to make the optimistic run forward and arrive in the box. 

Even when things weren’t going his team’s way in open play, Fafa found a consistent route to goal through set pieces. He’ll never be the biggest target in a crowded box, but his standout leaping ability and quick thinking helped him slot away several times from corner kicks throughout the year. Fans at Geodis Park became accustomed to seeing the no. 7 Fafà jersey wheeling away from a crowded box in celebration.

Picault will have plenty to be proud of when he looks back on his 2023 season in Nashville, not least of which being a surprise return to international soccer, after he accepted a call up from Haiti and represented Les Grenadiers in the 2023 Gold Cup. As much as he made an impression on Nashville with his play on the field, the city must have made a mark on him as well – the song selection for his initiation performance with his new national team speaks for itself.

Looking forward

It may be a case of the right player at the wrong time for Nashville SC. Picault is 32, and it did seem that his minutes were managed somewhat at points in the season, culminating in a baffling exclusion aside from a short cameo at the end of Nashville’s 0-1 loss in the first leg of an ultimately doomed opening round MLS Cup Playoff series against Orlando City.

One can’t help but wonder what could have been if he had been added to the ‘Yotes at an earlier stage in their  now four-year MLS journey. His one year contract has ended, and he’ll be able to test the waters in free agency if he chooses. Even if he remains in Nashville, his age makes it difficult to build around him for the future, but he can still be an important piece in Nashville’s attack in 2024.

Moment of the season

Picault scored Nashville’s equalizing goal in the 2023 Leagues Cup final, a moment he’ll never forget on an evening when the eyes of the world were on Music City. Surely nothing will top that memory as he and Nashville supporters recount Picault’s 2023 season.

But an admittedly less significant goal, Nashville’s first in an eventual 2-0 win over FC Dallas in the US Open Cup Round of 32, was a thing of beauty. Few players in the club’s history are able to up the ball in that area, carry it forward that distance, and pull off that kind of finish. It was as good an example as any of the difference Picault made to this team.

Previous report cards:

Joe Willis | Dan Lovitz | Lukas MacNaughton | Jack Maher | Dax McCarty

Author: Josh Youngis a soccer obsessive and cohost of the very unserious Nashville SC fan podcast Paradise Pod. He will try to keep the silliness in podcast form and write more analytically here, but we can’t promise anything. Josh attended Middle Tennessee State University before making his way up to Nashville. He’s a snowboarder, hobbyist musician, decent tennis player, and extremely amateur home bartender. He is atoning for sins in a past life by suffering through Tottenham Hotspur fandom in this one. There’s a good chance that as you’re reading this he’s starting a rewatch of The Sopranos.

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