Nashville SC made use of all five of their 2021 SuperDraft picks, adding five players to their roster from the college ranks.
With their first round pick, (20th overall), Nashville selected midfielder/forward Irakoze Donasiyano from the University of Virginia. Donasiyano is a versatile option who can play multiple roles in Nashville’s midfield and attack. The 5-9 native of Tanzania acquired his American citizenship in January, meaning he won’t require an international roster spot.
After Derrick Jones was traded earlier in the afternoon, there’s a potential opening in Nashville’s midfield, and general manager Mike Jacobs is optimistic that Irakoze can contribute immediately.
“The hope for us was by us trading Derrick [Jones], we’d be able to land Koze and have him play a role in our midfield,” he told reporters after the draft, adding that Irakoze’s ability to play right-back was also huge, given Alistair Johnston’s commitments to the Canadian national team.
With the 36th overall pick, Nashville took left-back Tom Judge from James Madison. The 6-1 fullback made 56 appearances in three seasons with the Dukes, making an All-CAA team every season he was there.
“I was fairly aggressive trying to trade up because I didn’t think Tom Judge would fall to 36,” said Jacobs, who also added that he can play anywhere along the left side.
Nashville had a pair of back-to-back picks late in the third round. With the 73rd overall pick, they selected Sondre Norheim, a 6-4 defender from Syracuse. Norheim has played 59 matches at Syracuse, scoring 10 goals and helping the Orange secure 13 shutouts.
Nashville took goalkeeper Tor Saunders with the 74th pick. Saunders played for three seasons at Akron before transferring to Costal Carolina for the 2020 season. Jacobs told reporters that Saunders was their first pick at goalkeeper in the draft, and that Norheim’s ability to play both right center-back and right-back was a major factor in his selection.
With the 86th and final pick of the draft, Nashville took Leroy Enzugusi, a forward from Drake University. Enzugusi scored 13 goals in 34 collegiate matches for the Bulldogs, primarily as a right winger but able to play on either side or through the center.
Enzugusi comes into Nashville with experience at the professional level, having previously played in the Sporting KC/Swope Park Rangers system, where Mike Jacobs was the assistant GM.
“We got all the players we wanted,” said general manager Mike Jacobs. “If you saw the board in my office, we had three names written down: Koze, Tom Judge and Sondre [Norheim]. The hope was if one of those guys was available at 20, we would be able to take them. We just can’t believe that we were able to land all three of those guys!”
Jacobs stressed how important versatility was in Nashville’s scouting process. He also said that they expect several, if not all, of their draft picks to return to their college sides for the spring season before joining Nashville in May. “”I can’t comment on each of these guys specifically today, but it’s probably in their best interest to get games,” he said.
The five draft picks bring Nashville’s current roster to 28 players, with additional signings imminent. Major League Soccer has yet to set a start date for the 2021 season.
Nashville SC Roster (as of Jan 1 2021)
Goalkeepers (3): Joe Willis, Elliot Panicco, Tor Saunders*
Defenders (9): Jalil Anibaba, Tom Judge*, Dan Lovitz, Jack Maher, Miguel Nazarit†, Sondre Norheim*, Dave Romney, Taylor Washington, Walker Zimmerman
Midfielders (10): David Accam, Brian Anunga, Irakoze Donasiyano*, Handwalla Bwana, Aníbal Godoy, Matt LaGrassa, Randall Leal, Dax McCarty, Hany Mukhtar, Alex Muyl
Forwards (6): Abu Danladi, Dom Badji, Jhonder Cádiz, Leroy Enzugusi*, Daniel Ríos
*2021 SuperDraft pick (not yet signed to contract)
†Loan to Independiente Santa Fe to be officially confirmed