Nashville SC signed 17-year-old forward Adem Sipić to a homegrown contract earlier on Tuesday, the first player to come through Nashville’s academy system all the way to the first team.
Nashville rolled out all the stops for their first-ever academy-produced player, putting on a full press conference to announce Sipić’s contract. For a club that has invested heavily in their academy and taken a slower approach to developing talent, they’re understandably proud.
“It really is a peek behind the curtain of what we hope will start to be a conveyor belt of players being grown develop through our First Team be it through our youth academy, which Adem has absolutely smashed over the past year or through Huntsville City FC, where he scored his first professional goal just a couple of days ago,” Nashville SC general manager Mike Jacobs said in the press conference. “We now have a full pro player pathway that for the first time enables us to be like any other club in the world. It’s exciting time for the present and the future of Nashville Soccer Club. Adem is truly a deserving candidate to be our club’s first Homegrown.”
So what are expectations for Sipić? While signing as Nashville’s first-ever homegrown will excite fans and even increase the pressure on him, it’s important to remember that he just turned 17 in April, and won’t begin playing with Nashville in MLS until the 2024 season.
“It’s kind of a slow burn,” Jacobs told Broadway Sports Media in an interview. “The reality is he just turned 17 a couple months ago. The number of guys his age who get meaningful minutes in MLS is usually a pretty small number. It doesn’t mean he couldn’t, but we’re just looking to see the same things he’s been doing.”
Sipić will play with Huntsville in their midweek trip to Toronto FC II, before traveling with Nashville’s U-17s to compete in MLS NEXT Cup, his last involvement as an academy player. From then on, he’ll play with Huntsville City FC for the rest of the 2023 season while training regularly with Nashville, ideally setting him up to contribute to the first team in 2024.
“Who knows when that time comes when he will ascend and integrate into the first team, but he has all the attributes you look for in a player,” said Jacobs. “This kid is like Gary [Smith]’s dream. If you asked Gary to get in a laboratory and build a center forward, that’s Adem Sipić. Whether its his physical attributes, his ability to create and finish scoring chances, or his work rate. He’s somebody who finds a way to get on the field.”