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Nashville SC GM Mike Jacobs Shares Insights into Building MLS Club on Speedway Soccer

August 2, 2019 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Nashville SC News Release

NASHVILLE - This week, Nashville SC General Manager Mike Jacobs sat down with hosts Ben Wright and Davey Shepard of Speedway Soccer, a 104.5 The Zone podcast, for an in-depth interview as the club continues to build towards its Major League Soccer debut in 2020.

And as he noted, there's could be a lot to talk about regarding the future of Nashville SC in the coming weeks and months.

"The reality is in the coming weeks we're going to have an awful lot to share about the future of NSC's academy," Jacobs said. "From facilities to directors to a development plan, that's kind of on the horizon here for us. I think it's something we can probably share more in-depth in the coming weeks. What I can say is the reality is that the foundation for any professional soccer team in our country or abroad is the strength of our academy. We're going to be very active in the process of trying to develop our own players to eventually play on our first team."

Jacobs also talked about the club's strategy for acquiring players for the MLS club. Nashville SC already has Daniel Ríos, Cameron Lancaster and Derrick Jones under MLS contracts for 2020, and will also bring in winger David Accam after he finishes the 2019 season in MLS with Columbus Crew SC. In terms of how the club plans to acquire the rest of the MLS roster, Jacobs wants to make smart, informed decisions about which players he purchases. However, that doesn't mean he won't spend money to field a competitive roster.

"In the simplest terms, what 'Moneyball' is, is trying to acquire things that are undervalued, try to discard things that are overvalued and trying to maximize the resources you have," Jacobs said. "For us, it's not a question of whether we're going to spend or not. I think, over the coming weeks and the coming months, I think we'll be able to demonstrate [that] with some of the players that we announce. You'll see players at varying levels of abilities in MLS, also varying wage scales as well, we'll probably demonstrate that. From our standpoint, we're not going to spend frivolously. We're not going to buy players simply to buy them. We're not going to buy names simply to try to move the turnstiles. From our standpoint, we think the best way to engage our fanbase is just to win all the time. The best way for us to do that is to spend on the right players that we feel, looking at best practices and looking at analytics to gauge how the players have the best kind of success and track records in our league."

One member of Jacobs' staff that his helping him find the right talent is Oliver Miller-Farrell, the club's Director of Strategy and Analytics. The insight he has provided so far has been invaluable.

"To add someone like Oliver, who worked at Opta, who is the world's leader in data analytics, his role in knowing how each club in MLS integrates analytics is invaluable," Jacobs said. "His strategic insight into how to take specific software to help us shortlist players to get an idea of what kind of players we're looking at and where to find those players, I think for us we're going to try to look at any advantage we can take to make it successful. We're going to be looking under rocks for players to try and look in between the lines at what the statistics to tell us. Having someone like Oliver serving in that capacity is invaluable."

Overall, Jacobs is looking to build Nashville SC's identity and build a team that will compete hard for an experienced and stingy coach like Gary Smith. Most of all, he wants to build a team that will be exciting to watch.

"As far as our DNA, we're going to be a team that's going to create a lot of scoring chances, we're going to be a team that puts pressure on opposing teams, and you can put pressure on teams defensively, like what you associate with a full-court press in basketball or in soccer, a high-pressing team. You can also pressure a team offensively by how you turn their defense, how you make them uncomfortable in their half of the field. The last phrase I mentioned is important in our DNA; we want players who can be uncomfortable, can deal with being under pressure, the likes of playing somewhere like Atlanta in front of 70,000 fans. The notion of being comfortable while they're uncomfortable, but also the notion of making other teams uncomfortable, and being a high-pressing team on both sides of the ball."

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