Nashville SC 2020 Report Card: Handwalla Bwana

We’re continuing our Nashville SC report cards with a look at winger Handwalla Bwana.

Position: Winger
Matches played: 4
Minutes played: 95
Goals: 0
Assists: 0
Goals added: 0.95 (17th among MLS wingers)
xG+xA: 2.16 (75th among MLS wingers)
Average Speedway Soccer rating: 6.6
Average WhoScored rating: 6.2

What went right in 2020?

Bwana was a midseason acquisition from Seattle Sounders. While Bwana made four appearances for Nashville after arriving in October, Nashville signed him with the future in mind.

Bwana’s numbers when he got on the field were impressive, and he showed the potential to make an impact for Nashville down the road, either as a starter or one of the first names off the bench.

He’s fast, a strong 1-v-1 dribbler, and can put in a nice floated cross to the back post. He’s most comfortable inverted on the left, but played on both sides for Nashville. While he can cut in and shoot, he tends to prefer getting to the goal line and putting in a cross. It makes sense that Nashville would acquire a player like that to compliment their target forward Jhonder Cádiz.

With Nashville set to sign reinforcements on the wing, Bwana should continue to contribute off the bench.

What went wrong in 2020?

Bwana saw his playing time limited in Seattle, prompting his move to Nashville. While he didn’t get on the field much more in Nashville, he looks like a good fit for Nashville’s system. More playing time would have been nice from his perspective, but it wasn’t a surprise.

What needs to improve in 2021?

More minutes is the big one, obviously. He’s highly rated by Nashville’s coaching and technical staff, though, who all view him as a much bigger contributor in 2021. With a busy schedule and guys like Randall Leal set for international duty, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to see the field.

Nashville won’t bring back Alan Winn for 2021, and Bwana was clearly preferred to him down the stretch. With Abu Danladi, David Accam and Dom Badji hurt for most of Bwana’s time in Nashville, we don’t have a clear idea of where he ranks in Gary Smith’s depth chart, but he will have competition every week to earn his spot. That’s a good thing for a young player.

On the field, he could use a bit more bulk to withstand some of the more physical challenges he’ll face.

2020 Grade: B-*

*I came close to giving him an “incomplete”, though.

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