Sean Davis: 2023 report card

Sean Davis saw his minutes decline in 2023, unable to provide Nashville SC the ball progression from midfield they so desperately needed.

2023 Grade: C-

2023 by the numbers

Matches played: 40 (6th on Nashville SC)
Minutes played: 2,499 (10th on Nashville SC)
Goals: 0
Assists: 1 (T-11th on Nashville SC)
Goal contributions per 96 minutes: 0.04 (17th on Nashville SC)

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2023 in review

Davis was signed ahead of 2022 as a free agent, a major coup for Nashville SC, who beat several other teams for his signature. He was a consistent starter, playing in all 34 MLS matches with 32 starts.

In 2023, he appeared in 32 league matches for Nashville, but started just 21. Dax McCarty, Aníbal Godoy and Alex Muyl were all often preferred in midfield, and especially after Gary Smith shifted to a diamond formation, Davis was the odd man out.

All in, Davis’s 1,870 league minutes were his lowest total since 2017 (2020’s Covid-shortened season not included). As the fifth-highest paid player on Nashville’s roster and a player signed to be a core player, one who would compete with Godoy and McCarty for minutes, Davis struggled to carve out a consistent role for himself on the pitch.

Especially offensively, Davis struggled. He’s generally safe with the ball, but was never consistently able to break lines with his passing and progress the ball quickly. Generally Davis was held to cycling the ball around midfield and to the fullbacks with the occasional switched mixed in. In New York, Davis was never a playmaking midfielder per se, but his limitations in possession were more evident in 2023, when Nashville’s midfield was crying out for a ball progresser.

Looking forward

Davis heads into 2024 on the last year of his guaranteed deal, with a club option coming in 2025. He’ll turn 31 right as the season starts, and it will be a pivotal year in determining his future with Nashville SC.

On the field, Nashville desperately need more quick and decisive ball progression from midfield. They have to address it in the transfer window, but with Dax McCarty leaving the club, Davis will be relied on more than ever. Whether or not he can develop the type of passing Nashville need at this stage in his career remains to be seen, but he needs a much more consistent and assured performance in 2024.

Moment of the season

Davis’s lone goal contribution came in a 2-1 win in Charlotte. The shot from Hany Mukhtar took a wild deflection, but the ball forward was a good one.

Previous report cards:

Joe Willis (A-) | Dan Lovitz (A) | Lukas MacNaughton (A) | Jack Maher (A-) | Dax McCarty (B+) | Fafà Picault (A) | Randall Leal (D) | Sam Surridge (B-) | Hany Mukhtar (B-) | Ethan Zubak (D) | Teal Bunbury (C-) | Jacob Shaffelburg (B-) | Shaq Moore (B) | Alex Muyl (B+) | Aníbal Godoy (C+) | Josh Bauer (B-) | Taylor Washington (B) | Walker Zimmerman (B-) | Luke Haakenson (C) | Brian Anunga (C) | Elliot Panicco (A)

Author: Ben Wrightis the Director of Soccer Content and a Senior MLS Contributor for Broadway Sports covering Nashville SC and the US National Team. Previously Ben was the editor and a founder of Speedway Soccer, where he has covered Nashville SC and their time in USL before journeying to Major League Soccer since 2018. Raised in Louisville, KY Ben grew up playing before a knee injury ended his competitive career. When he is not talking soccer he is probably producing music, drinking coffee or hanging out with his wife and kids. Mastodon

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