Nashville SC 2020 report card: Joe Willis

We’re continuing our expansion season recap with individual report cards, after breaking down the squad by positions. We’re starting our individual reports at the back, with Nashville SC’s first-choice goalkeeper Joe Willis. (Shout out to Dirty South Soccer for the inspiration).

Position: Goalkeeper
Matches played: 26
Minutes played: 2235 (4th in MLS)
Shots faced: 92 (5th in MLS)
Saves made: 69 (4th in MLS)
G-xG: -2.45 (6th in MLS)
Clean sheets: 10 (1st in MLS)

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What went right in 2020?

Just about everything, honestly. Playing behind the best defense he’s ever had, Willis out-performed expectations and was among the best goalkeepers in Major League Soccer. Nashville did a good job limiting the quality of chances he faced for the most part, but he came up big on multiple occasions to keep his goal in tact.

He’s not quite at the level of shot stopping as a Matt Turner or Andre Blake, but he doesn’t make many mistakes, and he definitely doesn’t lose games for his team. His leadership from the back is an underrated quality, and he gets a lot of credit for organizing a group of defenders who played together for the first time.

What needs to improve in 2021?

Not a whole lot. He showed in 2020 that he’s firmly entrenched as the number one option, and Nashville SC confirmed that with a long-term contract extension. If we’re going to nit-pick, his distribution could be improved.

It’s probably unfair to level that as a critique, but it’s a testament to Willis that there aren’t really any obvious weaknesses. The best thing he could do next season is to keep up his 2020 form.

Most memorable moment

Is there really any other option?

2020 grade: A

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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