Darnell King Trying to Make His Mark on Competitive Backline
NASHVILLE - Nashville Soccer Club's defenders have gotten off to a roaring start this season as new additions have bolstered a returning backline that was one of the best in the league in 2018.
However, one exciting new addition has yet to see any action this season: Darnell King.
"Coming in, I knew I didn't have anything guaranteed," King said. "I embraced competition, and it's great competition. We all learn from each other. Even if you're not in the starting lineup, you're pushing each other and staying positive for each other. It's a good group in the backline, especially coming from last season. They were one of the best defenses in the whole league, so it's good to become a part of that. When I get my chance, whenever that is, I just want to come in and show what I can do and contribute to the backline."
King's next chance to crack the Nashville lineup is this Saturday night against Memphis 901 FC. Even without King's presence, the Nashville SC backline has been a stalwart in the first four matches of the season. So far, Nashville has only conceded two goals on the season, tied for the second-fewest in the USL Championship.
In addition, the defenders have stifled opponents' offensive attacks before they ever get the chance to take shots. Nashville allowed Ottawa Fury FC to take just four shots in their match last weekend, and only two of those shots went on target.
With a backline that is already playing at an elite level, King hopes he can only add to that when he gets his chance on the field.
"It's definitely motivation," said King. "You want to keep it that way, it doesn't matter who's on the field. If we're keeping shutouts and keeping that path the way it is, I think it's motivational to keep that going no matter who is on the field and whoever you're playing alongside. Everybody plays defense throughout the whole field, but the backline shows if we're doing our job it just motivates the guys up front to do their job and score goals, which they've been doing."
King is one of the more veteran members of the Nashville defense unit, having started his professional career back in 2012. Even with his wealth of experience across American soccer, he still learns every day from the younger players on the roster.
"You always learn something in this game every day," King said. " It doesn't matter who it's from. You get the feel of certain players and you learn how they play, which can alter your game a little bit. It's all about adapting, I think. That's the way I've always played. It's a good group, we can learn from each other."
With a rivalry matchup approaching on Saturday, Nashville's defenders have been battling in training to get the chance to see time on the pitch against Memphis 901 FC. With so much depth on the roster, every practice and every minute of playing time is another chance to prove that you belong on the pitch.
The players are competitive, but it's a healthy competition.
"You're always competing," King said. "That's what makes this team what it is. It's great when you have competitors like we do out here. It just makes everyone better along the way and brings camaraderie all over the pitch. It shows what type of resilience we have as a team and the experience that we can show some of the young guys who are already experienced."
Tickets are still available for Nashville SC's matchup with Memphis 901 FC on Saturday night at 7 PM at First Tennessee Park. You can purchase them at NashvilleSC.com/singlegame.
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