NASHVILLE, TN – Nashville SC announced a surprising trade early on Tuesday morning. The club acquired center back Lukas MacNaughton and up to $200,000 in General Allocation Money from Toronto FC in exchange for striker CJ Sapong. Nashville will receive $125,000 in 2023, with $75,000 coming in 2024 if MacNaughton hits certain performance-based metrics.
Acquired MacNaughton makes a lot of sense for Nashville. The 28-year-old center back fills a position of need after Nick DePuy’s season ending injury, giving Nashville a starting-quality center back. MacNaughton started 22 games last year for Toronto FC after joining from the Canadian Premier League.
Born in New York, MacNaughton won’t occupy the international roster spot Nashville just acquired. He also holds Canadian and Belgian passports, playing youth soccer in Brussels before rising through the Canadian semi-professional ranks. He broke out with Pacific FC in 2019, making 59 appearances in three seasons and scoring five goals.
CJ Sapong was signed as a free agent ahead of Nashville’s 2021 season. He earned the full-time starting job midway through the year, keeping Designated Players Jhonder Cádiz and Aké Loba on the bench. He had 12 goals and six assist in his first season in Music City, and after starting strong with five goals in 2022, the goals dried up. His last goal for Nashville came on May 29, 2022, failing to find the net in 1,927 minutes.
Despite the lack of goals, his partnership with Hany Mukhtar was a key part of Mukhtar’s MVP form. Sapong had a strong connection with Mukhtar, but his holdup play and excellent off-ball work ultimately couldn’t make up for the lack of goals.
We’ll have more analysis on the trade shortly.