Nashville SC announced their roster decisions on Friday morning. As expected, the core of their squad will return for the 2022 season, with a couple key departures opening increased roster flexibility ahead of the 2022 season.
Already under contract
Handwalla Bwana, Aké Loba, Jack Maher, Hany Mukhtar, Miguel Nazarit, Rodrigo Piñeiro, Daniel Ríos, Dave Romney, CJ Sapong, Joe Willis, Walker Zimmerman
Signed new contracts
Brian Anunga, Aníbal Godoy, Dax McCarty, Randall Leal, Dan Lovitz
Robert Castellanos, Irakoze Donasiyano, Luke Haakenson, Alistair Johnston, Eric Miller, Alex Muyl, Dylan Nealis, Elliot Panicco, Taylor Washington
David Accam, Nick Hinds, Tom Judge, Matt LaGrassa, Brian Meredith, Tor Saunders
Out of contract
Jalil Anibaba, Abu Danladi
Nashville declined Bryan Meredith’s option, but are in talks to bring the ‘keeper back. Meredith didn’t see the field last season, but served as Joe Willis’s backup in all 36 matches the club played while Elliot Panicco was on loan in the USL Championship.
Jhonder Cádiz’s loan from Benfica expired at the end of the season, and the DP striker will not return. Cádiz scored five goals for Nashville in 31 appearances, but struggled to break into the starting lineup. Initially on loan through June 2021, his loan was extended as Nashville negotiated to sign Aké Loba, giving the club cover in case dealings fell through with Monterrey.
David Accam will also not return. His option has not been picked up after a year on loan with Hammarby in Sweden. Nashville signed Accam well aware of his injury history, and his playing time in 2020 was severely limited due to a succession of minor injuries that limited him to just 233 minutes.
As previously reported, both Jalil Anibaba and Abu Danladi are out of contract. Both players have the potential to return to Nashville, but are free to explore other offers. Robert Castellanos saw his option picked up, and despite making just a single appearance this year, has the backing of the technical staff and is expected to play a more significant role in 2022.
Miguel Nazarit was signed as a Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) signing before Nashville’s 2020 expansion season, but didn’t see the field before going on a season-long loan to Independiente Santa Fe last season. He played just three matches in Colombia, and was only in the match-day squad on 12 occasions. He’s the sixth-highest paid player on Nashville’s books, but with a guaranteed contract, he’ll likely be loaned out for another season.
Similarly, the club is exploring loan options for Rodrigo Piñeiro, who played just 16 minutes all year as the club’s first U22 Initiative signing. Piñeiro dealt with a difficult transition to the United States in his first season abroad, and has been vocal on social media and in the Uruguayan press on his desire to leave on loan. His contract is guaranteed through 2023 with an additional year option. Nashville’s staff is still bullish on his potential to have an impact in MLS, but he desperately needs minutes in the short term.
Nashville are expected to be active in the MLS half-day transfer window, which will be open from 8:00 am to noon central on Sunday morning. After that, they will not be able to sign or trade players until after the 2021 Expansion Draft on December 14.
Austin FC selected Nashville’s Brady Scott in last year’s Expansion Draft, meaning Nashville are protected in 2021.
Nashville SC current roster
Goalkeepers (2): Joe Willis, Elliot Panicco
Defenders (10): Robert Castellanos, Alistair Johnston, Dan Lovitz, Jack Maher, Eric Miller, Miguel Nazarit, Dylan Nealis, Dave Romney, Taylor Washington, and Walker Zimmerman
Midfielders (10): Tah Brian Anunga, Handwalla Bwana, Irakoze Donasiyano, Aníbal Godoy, Luke Haakenson, Randall Leal, Dax McCarty, Hany Mukhtar, Alex Muyl and Rodrigo Piñeiro
Forwards (3): Aké Loba, Daniel Ríos and CJ Sapong