Smith: Players have “massive interest” to play in Nashville

Nashville Soccer Club has nearly completed [or may have totally completed] the process of assembling the roster for its inaugural season. And if you listen to what coach Gary Smith says, the team had its fair share of good options due to Music City’s appeal.

“There have been plenty of other individuals who have been in touch with myself or [technical director] Mike Jacobs and have expressed a massive interest to be in Nashville for obvious reasons,” Smith said.

Since his hire in April, Smith’s primary focus has been scouting and acquiring players who can build an immediate winner. Now, that process is nearly complete and it’s time to get those players on the field.

“I’ve had a good period of time to put together what is a 23-man group now,” Smith said. “Not everybody has that opportunity. I’m absolutely delighted with the players we’ve got. The squad we’ve got in place is a very good one and I’m extremely excited to get going.”

The final step in the roster assembly process: evaluating whether there are any players who can add depth to a team full of MLS and USL veterans.

“We’re at a point now where we’re looking for players that have got a little more potential,” Smith said. “Not necessarily individuals that have lots of experience in USL or above, but individuals that have ability, future and maybe potential to be those players.”

Nashville SC held two rounds of tryouts Saturday and Sunday. 135 players participated in sessions Smith called “competitive.”

“I thought most of them were in good shape and were given a good opportunity to show what they’re about,” said Smith. “I’ve seen an awful lot of younger players and these senior-type players as well.”

Once the roster is finalized, it’s time to put the roster jigsaw together and attempt to field a winner. Smith has a good handle on the tactics he wants to employ based on the pieces he already has in place.

“I know exactly what I want to do. I know exactly how I’m gonna play, and I know exactly what the Plan B will look like,” Smith said. “I’d rather keep that a little closer to my chest at this point, but I’m sure as the games unfold — we have Atlanta United in [three] weeks’ time — I’ll put a side out that will start to reflect how we’re gonna play and what we’re gonna do.”

While Smith wouldn’t go into detail about formations or personnel decisions, he conceded they won’t be a mystery for long.

“It’s not gonna be top-secret,” said Smith. “I can’t play a different system to how we’re gonna open up in Louisville; otherwise, the group will have some serious questions. So we’ll be planning and training in the way that we mean to move forward, and my hope is there’s some very, very good preseason games.”

That preseason starts with a Feb. 10 friendly against Atlanta United, then proceeds with four games away from home — two against MLS sides.

“We’ve got some great competition and I’m delighted with the opposition that we have in preseason,” Smith said. “We’re gonna have some questions that are asked of us, and I think the group is gonna need some games where it doesn’t all go our way, because that’s the only way we’ll learn. By the time we start, I think we’ll be in a good spot.”


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