Earlier this week, myself and the guys at Speedway Soccer discussed on the latest podcast (which can be found here) who we believe has been Nashville SC’s most valuable player so far this season. Speedway Soccer has also put out a Twitter poll for the fans to decide, which is still ongoing.
Who has been Nashville SC's player of the year over the first half of the season? Vote now in the second edition of #SpeedwaySoccerPoll. Reply with your thoughts or to vote for someone not on the list (we're limited to 4 options).
— Speedway Soccer (@SoccerSpeedway) July 3, 2018
Let’s take a look at each of these players and see why they were chosen as possible candidates.
Bolu Akinyode: Nashville’s physical presence in the midfield has been one of Gary Smith’s most consistent pieces and a regular in the starting eleven. He brings a perfect balance of both being a bruiser (leads the team in tackles with 47, tackles won with 35, and duels won with 98) and a distributor (leads the team in passing accuracy at 90 percent, and is second on the team in long passing accuracy at 77 percent). Although he’s not as flashy as the other three infield players on our list, Akinyode does a lot of the unnoticed dirty work in the midfield, and it’s hard to imagine what this team would look like if he wasn’t out there.
Lebo Moloto: The oil that keeps the proverbial Nashville SC offensive machine churning, Moloto’s creativity both on the ball with his excellent vision to find teammates and off the ball to make runs into space has proven to be quite the commodity. Not only is he tied for the team lead in goals with five, but the South African also leads the team in key passes with 25. He’s also tied for the team lead with assists with three.
Moloto has scored a couple of screamers this season, so that helps. Nashville has only scored four goals this season outside of the box, with two of them belonging to Moloto.
— Nashville SC (@NashvilleSC) June 3, 2018
— Nashville SC (@NashvilleSC) July 1, 2018
Ropapa Mensah: Mensah is quickly becoming a fan favorite, thanks to his ability to provide a spark off the bench and goals in a pinch. Like Moloto, he is currently tied for the lead in goals scored in all competitions with five. He’s also tied with Moloto for the team lead in assists with three, so he also knows how to get his teammates involved as well. When Mensah scores, Nashville is 3-1-1 in all competitions, so his contribution to put the ball in the back of the net is crucial and a reason why he gets the nod as one of our candidates.
Matt Pickens: There isn’t much that needs to be said about Pickens if you’ve watched Nashville play this year. He’s a force between the posts that produces consistent dependability. He’s started the most games out of any player, and leads the team in minutes with 1,350. Pickens is currently near the top of the Eastern Conference with eight clean sheets, and two of his saves this season have been nominees for Save of the Week in the USL.