Film Friday: The rise of a Shaffelburg

Welcome to another Film Friday, today’s topic is Jacob Shaffelberg. The speedy winger has had himself a great season thus far. In 10 games for club and country, the Nova Scotia Neymar has four goals and three assists.

It’s even more impressive when you consider that he has only started half of those games, and played approximately 520 minutes. How has he done that? Let’s dive into the 3 biggest factors.

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Number one is confidence. Anyone who watched Shaffelberg at any point in his career can see that he has the talent and explosiveness necessary to be a top player. But the biggest question was always with his final touch. Being confident has allowed him to take shots, take players on, and pass the ball without second guessing himself.

This shot for Canada is a prime example of his confidence. He came in as a sub after playing a couple of great matches for Nashville, and he carried that confidence with him into the national team. Confidence is how players build form, so as more things work out for him on the pitch, the higher his game will elevate.

Style of play

The second factor is how Nashville plays. As Shaffelberg becomes more important to the team, Gary Smith adjusts Nashville to make sure that they are taking full advantage of an in-form “Shaffel-baby”.

Nashville often uses Shaffelberg as the only explosive winger. Even when paired with other wingers like Tyler Boyd or Alex Muyl, they still are using a different role. Let’s take a look at what that looks like on the pitch.

Nashville often has four lanes of attack. The two center lanes and the right one are generally occupied by the other three forwards. Allowing for Shaffelberg to be the main outlet and giving him a whole lot of space to run into.

These three drifting centrally and to the right moves defenders away from Shaffelberg, creating even more space. Lets look at one more example. Here, Sam Surridge pulls both the right center back and the wing back towards him, allowing for all this space for Shaffelberg.


The third and final factor is overall experience and development. Shaffelberg is entering his prime. Before coming to Nashville he had a total of 27 MLS starts and had never played 1,000 MLS minutes in any given season.

Last year for Nashville, Shaffelberg played over 1,300 MLS minutes and made 15 starts. This game time is very valuable and allows for player development. Also working with 1v1 specialist Nashville assistant coach Steve Guppy helps.

Of course none of that would be possible if Shaffelberg didn’t have the work ethic and determination needed to make it at this level.

Thank you for watching and please remember to follow, subscribe and share.

Author: Valair Shabillamoved to Nashville as a refugee from Iraq at the age of 14. A fan of soccer from a young age, he used soccer to connect with a larger community in Nashville and adapt to life abroad. He's covered Nashville SC since 2019, co-hosting Pharmaceutical Soccer, and analyzing soccer from an audio/video perspective.

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