Nashville SC 2020 Report Cards: Jalil Anibaba

We’re continuing our Nashville SC report cards with a look at defender Jalil Anibaba.

Position: Center-back / right-back
Matches played: 13
Minutes played: 653
Goals: 0
Assists: 0
Goals added: -0.16 (74th among MLS full-backs)
Average Speedway Soccer rating: 6.5
Average WhoScored rating: 6.3

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What went right in 2020?

Anibaba was a reliable depth piece for Nashville in 2020, filling in at center-back and right-back. He started six matches, and was often a late-game substitute to help secure a result.

Anibaba started a handful of matches at right-back with Alistair Johnston ahead of him, and helped the rookie adapt to the MLS level. He also had the distinction of being one of just three players to wear the captain’s armband for Nashville in their first season.

Most importantly, Anibaba was a leader off the field. One of the founders of the Black Players for Change coalition, he was a influential voice in the player’s fight for racial equality.

What went wrong in 2020?

Not much. Many assumed Anibaba would be a starter for Nashville until the club acquired Walker Zimmerman a couple weeks before the season began. Given that the move was always part of Nashville’s plan, Anibaba performed exactly as he was expected to.

What needs to improve in 2021?

2021 should see Anibaba in a similar role: one of the first names off the bench to preserve a lead and a capable backup to Dave Romney and Walker Zimmerman. With Zimmerman and Johnston both likely to miss time on international duty, Anibaba will be a solid option to replace them either in the center or on the right.

Most memorable moment

Anibaba’s role with BCP, including his press conference after MLS players boycotted games on August 26, won’t be soon forgotten.

2020 Grade: B+

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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