Forster Ajago “put himself on the map” in Nashville SC debut

NASHVILLE, TN – Forster Ajago’s Nashville SC debut was one to remember

Ajago was a surprise name on the team sheet in last night’s Concacaf Champions Cup match against Moca FC. The 22-year-old striker, signed after going undrafted in the 2024 MLS SuperDraft, hadn’t played a minute of professional soccer going into the match, but was given the start in Nashville’s first-ever home match in continental competition. Two goals and a dominant performance was quite the introduction in front of the Nashville SC faithful.

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“Initially, coach kind of told me it might be on the bench and we’ll see how things go. But as to whether I was starting, it was yesterday,” Ajago said after the match. “Obviously, I didn’t expect it to be like this. But coming into the game, I knew confidence-wise I was there. The guys got my back and I got nothing to lose.”

He certainly played like he had nothing to lose. Ajago, who isn’t even eligible to play for Nashville SC in MLS due to a lack of available international roster slots, became just the 10th player in Nashville’s seven-year history to score on his debut.

It could have been even better. In addition to his two goals, both incredibly well taken for such a young player, Ajago hit the woodwork twice and saw a penalty kick saved. It was nothing short of a dominant performance, albeit against inferior opposition, one that has fans clamoring for more involvement with Nashville’s first team.

“At this moment in time, the Champions Cup is the only competition that he can play in. However, circumstances can change,” head coach Gary Smith told media after the match. “I think that the lad has done an awful lot for himself tonight and put himself on the map. He’s been brilliant for the group. I don’t care what game you play in as a young man, if you’re scoring and threatening the goal, then there’s something there and it’s something to be excited about.”

Ajago only added to his rapidly-growing fan support with a memorable celebration after both goals, running to the corner flag and clawing at the air. While certainly eye-catching on the pitch, the celebration has a deeper meaning to Ajago, one that gives a glimpse into his long journey from  Navrongo, Ghana, to Nashville, Tennessee.

“I gain the name ‘bear’ there from the celebration,” Ajago grinned. “It’s kind of like a bear. And it’s like claws. For me, it kind of has a story of coming through from the beginning. It’s been tough and for me everything seems to be, I have to grab it. So it’s kind of like the aggressive mode of me taking out the weeds and clearing the way.”

“I’m the man here, I’m the liar, I’m the bear,” he added. “It’s kind of like a struggle out, clearing out the weeds and the weak ones, and showing I’m the strong one.”

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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