Nashville SC face a lot of new tests in 2022. From moving to the Western Conference, to playing the first eight matches of the season on the road, to opening a new home venue, it’s a season of firsts for the Boys In Gold. What questions to Nashville need to answer to have a successful season?
Jonathan Slape: I think it’s really two fold; Does Aké Loba make a huge step up and begin making significant contributions, and what does the midfield rotation look like? Nashville is going to have three starting quality central midfielders for the first time. How does Gary Smith see them rotating and fitting together?
Davey Shepherd: Can the team get proportionate performances out of DPs not named Hany Mukhtar?
Lucas Panzica: Who can supplement Hany Mukhtar’s goal-scoring ability? Will it be Aké Loba living up to his $6.8 million transfer fee?
Andy Simmons: Who will become mainstays in the attacking rotation? Obviously you can guarantee Hany Mukhtar for nearly every starting 11, but Nashville SC now has quite the cast of attackers at its disposal to work with. Aké Loba should be acclimated to the MLS game by now, and CJ Sapong can build off his strong campaign, but don’t forget about Randall Leal and newcomer Teal Bunbury. I’ll be curious to see who will produce between this group consistently.
Chris Ivey: Does Aké Loba make the Year 2 leap? Living up to his transfer fee would take this very good team to an elite level.
Ben Wright: There are a few for me. Can Nashville not just survive the opening road stretch, but pick up a couple wins to keep them ahead of the curve? Can they clean up some of the sloppy defensive moments we saw last year and stop consistently playing from behind? Can they turn some of their 18 draws last year into wins? And can Nashville be more proactive going forward and really go for a killer blow when they’re ahead? Last year I think a big issue was how content they seemed to sit on a single goal lead. With the talent in attack, they have to be more ruthless.