Nashville Soccer Club selected five players in the 2019 MLS Expansion Draft on Tuesday as the club continues to build their roster ahead of their inaugural MLS home match on Feb. 29 against Atlanta United. Following the Expansion Draft, Nashville SC traded Zarek Valentin for Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Joe Willis, and sent Brandon Vazquez to FC Cincinnati for $150,000 in Targeted Allocation Money. The club also added U.S. Men’s National Team defender Daniel Lovitz and Sporting KC promising goalkeeper Adrián Zendejas.
MLS Expansion Draft Summary:
- ABU DANLADI
Forward drafted from Minnesota United FC
Selected by Minnesota United FC with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft ahead of the club’s inaugural season, Danladi is an exciting, young attacking player. He just completed his third season with Minnesota becoming a regular contributor with 69 appearances in all competitions (25 starts).
He scored eight goals in his rookie campaign and added three assists. After dealing with injuries during his 2018 season, he bounced back with 24 appearances in 2019 and helping the club reach the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final and the playoffs for the first time in the club’s brief history.
Danladi is originally from Ghana and graduated from the Right to Dream program, the same program that produced Nashville SC winger David Accam. He played his college soccer at UCLA.
- ZAREK VALENTIN TRADED FOR JOE WILLIS
Defender drafted from the Portland Timbers; traded to Houston Dynamo for Goalkeeper Joe Willis
Houston will receive an additional $75,000 in 2021 TAM if Willis meets certain performance-based metrics
- JALIL ANIBABA
Defender drafted from New England Revolution
A proven veteran of the league, Anibaba has brought experience, leadership and success to the backline of the five MLS clubs he has served over the course of his 10-year career, reaching the MLS Playoffs with all of them. Having amassed a total of 229 matches in all competitions (209 as a starter), it was earlier this fall that the 31-year old defender reached his 200th career MLS start in a 2-0 playoff-clinching win over New York City FC on Sep. 29.
In addition to his MLS success, where he won the Supporters Shield with Seattle Sounders FC in 2014, Anibaba is also a back-to-back Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Champion and a three-time finalist (2011, 2014, 2015).
Internationally, Anibaba has represented the United States at the Under-18 and Under-20 levels. In 2007 he was a member of the U.S. U-18 Men’s National Team that competed in the Pan-American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
- BRANDON VAZQUEZ
Forward drafted from Atlanta United; traded to FC Cincinnati for $150,000 in 2020 Targeted Allocation Money.
Nashville SC will receive an additional $50,000 in 2021 GAM if Vazquez meets certain performance-based metrics.
- JIMMY MEDRANDA
Defender drafted from Sporting KC
Medranda, a seven-season MLS veteran, joined Sporting KC in August 2013 on loan from Deportivo Pereira (Colombia) the same year the club won the MLS Cup. He joined permanently six months later as a 20-year old.
Medranda continued his development throughout the next couple of years helping the club win the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 2015 and 2017.
A versatile player who can play as an outside back, a winger and in the central midfield, the Colombian has appeared in 103 matches for SKC in all competitions (66 starts).
The MLS trade window reopened upon the conclusion of the MLS Expansion and with that Nashville SC completed two transactions:
- Nashville SC added U.S. Men’s National Team defender Daniel Lovitz from Montreal Impact in exchange for $50,000 in 2020 General Allocation Money, $50,000 in 2020 Targeted Allocation Money and a 2020 international roster spot.
One of the most reliable left backs in the league and for the U.S. Men’s National Team, Lovitz became the first capped player joining from the Canadian side. A 2014 MLS SuperDraft pick by the Impact, he made his professional debut on May 17, 2014 against the Red Bulls. Since then, he has registered 125 matches (89 starts) in MLS between Toronto FC and the Impact.
Internationally, Lovitz made his international debut earlier this year in a friendly against Panama on Jan. 27 and has already accrued 12 caps (five starts) with the USMNT. Lovitz is currently with the National Team as they prepare to face Cuba at 6:30 p.m. tonight on FS1.
- Nashville SC added Joe Willis in a trade that sent recently drafted from the Portland Timbers Zarek Valentin to Houston. The Dynamo’s first-choice keeper joins the club after nine MLS seasons and a total of 136 appearances (132 starts).
A Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Champion with both D.C. United (2013) and Houston Dynamo (2018), Willis has made the playoffs in three different occasions, twice with D.C. and one with Houston as they reached the 2017 Western Conference Final. His veteran presence in the backline will add immediate dependability to Nashville in its inaugural season. In CONCACAF Champions League action, Willis has had seven starts split between D.C. and Houston.
- Nashville SC added promising goalkeeper Adrián Zendejas in exchange for $125,000 in 2020 Targeted Allocation Money, $50,000 in 2020 General Allocation Money and a 2020 international roster spot.
Originally signed by Sporting KC’s USL Championship affiliate Swope Park Rangers in the side’s 2016 inaugural season, the 24-year old keeper has gone back and forth earning valuable playing minutes between the two leagues. The 6-foot, 5 inches tall player finally made his MLS debut at FC Cincinnati in 1-1 draw on April 7 after earning 54 USL Championship starts with SPR. He also started against Panamanian side Club Atlético Independiente in CONCACAF Champions League on Mar. 6, 2019.
Join Nashville SC in its inaugural season in MLS by becoming a Season Ticket Member here or by calling a club representative at 615-750-8800.
****NASHVILLE SC PLAYERS AS OF NOV. 19, 2019