Nashville SC general manager Mike Jacobs has signed a three year contract extension with the club, CEO Ian Ayre announced on Thursday. Jacobs contract was previously set to expire at the end of the 2020 season. The new extension will keep him in Nashville through 2023.
“As I personally reflected on 2020, what became clear to me is that it was the quality of the people we assembled that got us through these most difficult times and were able to achieve what we achieved,” said Ayre. “Mike was actually the first person I hired for our MLS team… Today is really an opportunity to say that I and the owners are hugely delighted to announce that we’ve reached an agreement to extend Mike’s role here at Nashville Soccer Club for a further three years.
Jacobs joined Nashville SC in October 2017, ahead of their first season in USL. Along with head coach Gary Smith, he built a USL roster that qualified for the playoffs in 2018 and 2019, finishing with a 32-16-20 (W-D-L) record in two seasons. Under Jacobs, Nashville finished 2019 as the best defense in the USL Championship.
“It’s a dream job,” said Jacobs. “Not just to help build a club, but to do it here in Nashville.”
“He’s a hugely talented individual,” said Ayre. “Committed, extremely dedicated, and anyone who knows Mike knows that not only does he do a great job, but he eats, sleeps and breathes this thing. You sometimes have to tell him to relax, you know, and not just think about it every second of every day. That’s a great asset to have, particularly in a new club that’s going places.”
Jacobs was named MLS general manager in October 2019, and built the roster for Nashville’s MLS debut. Nashville was one of just six teams to qualify for the playoffs in their expansion team, and the first to win a playoff match since Chicago Fire in 1998. Nashville won two playoff matches before losing to eventual MLS Cup champions Columbus Crew in extratime.
“Heading into 2021, we have a firm handle on who we are and who we want to become,” said Jacobs. “2021 will be all about building on that and enhancing it.”
Jacobs has adopted a “moneyball” strategy to building Nashville’s roster. Instead of filling a squad with high-priced transfers, Nashville have “valued the undervalued”. Largely building their roster with players they’ve been able to acquire at relatively low cost, they’ve mixed in a few major moves, such as spending a league-record $1.25 million on center-back Walker Zimmerman, who was named MLS Defender of the Year in 2020.
“His contribution to our club has been exceptional,” said Ayre. “I know he’s as excited as I am about continuing to build on what we’ve started here and ensure that week to week, season to season, we can deliver something that Nashville can be proud of.”
The club’s full press release can be read below:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Jan. 7, 2021) – Nashville Soccer Club announced today the contract extension of General Manager Mike Jacobs through 2023. Jacobs joined the club in 2018 and has since built three consecutive playoffs rosters for Nashville SC in Major League Soccer and the USL Championship.
Jacobs used an innovative analytics approach to construct an inaugural roster and nucleus that offered both, immediate and future success. He balanced leadership with hard working domestic and international young talent in his approach, and built a foundation that saw MLS veterans such us Dax McCarty, Aníbal Godoy and Daniel Lovitz mixed with newcomers such as 2020 SuperDraft Alistair Johnston, Designated Players Hany Mukhtar and Randall Leal and USL Championship players Daniel Ríos and Tah Brian Anunga.
Prior to the start of the 2020 season, Jacobs bolstered the club’s backline by acquiring United States Men’s National Team center back Walker Zimmerman in a record-breaking trade. The addition paid off immediately with Zimmerman scoring the first goal in Nashville’s MLS history in front of a crowd of 59,069 at Nissan Stadium on Feb. 29. The rising National Team leader went onto being named the MLS Defender of the Year and MLS Best XI in 2020.
Throughout the season, Jacobs continued to address key areas with the addition of third Designated Player Jhonder Cádiz and Homegrown midfielders Alex Muyl and Handwalla Bwana. The transactions immediately translated onto the field with Nashville becoming just the second expansion club in MLS history to win a playoff match in a historic inaugural MLS season that set new records and standards for an expansion team.
Jacobs originally joined Nashville SC after serving as Sporting Kansas City’s assistant technical director from 2015 to 2017, where they won the 2015 and 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and reached the MLS playoffs in each season.
As Jacobs enter the next three years of his contract, the General Manager will look to sustain the success reached in the club’s inaugural MLS season, while expanding on the foundation set thus far as an organization.
Quote from Nashville SC CEO Ian Ayre: “I have always believed that the secret to success in any organization is hiring great people that fit together well. Mike has proven that he is a highly capable individual and extremely effective as a General Manager and importantly works well with myself, our owners and his colleagues in delivering our collective ambitions for the club. He is a key figure in our club’s future.
“The effort that went into assembling our inaugural roster was an enormous piece of heavy lifting and Mike played a huge part in that process. Keeping a strong team together is a crucial next step as we continue to move forward to our second season in MLS, and I am delighted that we were able to reach an agreement on an extension to Mike’s contract.”
Quote from Nashville SC General Manager Mike Jacobs: “I want to thank John Ingram and our ownership group for their continued belief and support. The proof of concept from our expansion season in 2020 is a tremendous testament to our players and staff, and I’m excited to continue to play a role in the present and future of our club.”