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