Dave Romney Ready to Excel After 'Proving His Worth' in 2020
NASHVILLE - In 2020, Dave Romney was Nashville SC's ironman.
The 27-year-old defender played all 2,400 minutes of the season and excelled while doing so. Paired with Major League Soccer Defender of the Year Walker Zimmerman at center back, Romney helped Nashville's defense set expansion season defensive records and guide the club to a berth in the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
However, last season wasn't just a career year on the stat sheet for Romney.
"It's the culmination of a lot of years of putting in work, a lot of years just spot-starting here and there," Romney said. "I played 29 to 30 games two of those years, but still never being the first-choice guy was definitely frustrating. So, it was a lot of built-up frustration I got to get out last year and finally cement myself as a starter. And then just proving my worth. It felt good."
Romney's success in 2020 came as part of a cohesive back line unit that helped goalkeeper Joe Willis keep a league-leading 11 clean sheets between the regular season and playoffs. Romney and Zimmerman developed a rapport with starting outside backs Dan Lovitz and Alistair Johnston throughout the season. According to Romney, that cohesion came naturally, particularly with Zimmerman next to him.
"You've got guys with the same characteristics: all hard-working, good MLS players who have always been blue-collar guys, but still with the quality to play on the ball," Romney said. "It's been a good mix of guys who have the same mentality and culture. And then just friends off the field, and stuff like that. With Walker, just a lot of communication. It's easy to play next to him."
Last year's preseason was primarily an adjustment period with a new club, a new coach and a whole new group of players that were just getting to know each other. It was as much about building chemistry as much as working on Head Coach Gary Smith's systems.
This year, with one full season under its belt, Nashville SC is able to bypass all of the icebreakers and spend this preseason hitting the ground running with tactics and improvements.
"Just the connections you have with the players around you, the team, what Gary wants in general," Romney said. "The whole six weeks and into the season last year, it was kind of building the foundation of how he wanted us to defend, to build out of the back, different things here and there, but kind of the basics of each of those. Now we already know those, and he's just picking different things here and there to tinker and teach us to add onto what we did last year."
Even though Romney and his Nashville SC teammates accomplished a lot in 2020, he says this 2021 camp is an opportunity to get even better in all phases of the game. The foundation is there, and now it's time to build.
"Just the things we've been working on so far defensively, working on not getting so deep in that low block sometimes late in games, how we get pressure on guys in the middle third of the field, working on our pressing," Romney said. "And then just having more chemistry in the final third, finishing off that last pass or shot. We've got quality players, and I think we'll definitely find our stride this year."
Visit NashvilleSC.com and follow the club's social channels on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to keep up with the team during preseason camp presented by Vanderbilt Health.
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Major League Soccer Stories from March 29, 2021
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