Dax McCarty

Dax McCarty

When Nashville SC opens the club’s new Fairgrounds stadium on May 1, general manager Mike Jacobs expects to roll out the same core of a team that made the playoffs in both of its first two years.

On Friday, the club announced new deals for captain Dax McCarty, midfielders Anibal Godoy and Randall Leal and defender Dan Lovitz. All four played more than 2,000 minutes during the 2021 season. Additionally, the club extended the contract of Brian Anunga, coach Gary Smith’s favorite sub in central midfield. Terms were not disclosed.

McCarty, 34, has been one of the league’s iron men, moving up this season to eighth on the all-time list of minutes played in MLS, ahead of Bobby Boswell and just behind Steve Ralston. With a similar season in 2022, he could move into the top five. Godoy was often the team’s fulcrum, completing an eye-popping 91 percent of his passes. Leal became the team’s biggest threat from midfield, banging in eight goals and adding seven assists. Lovitz, meanwhile, was a deadly provider at both left back and left wingback, trailing only team MVP Hany Mukhtar in passes that led to shots.

The club also parted ways with a number of players, notably Jhonder Cádiz, the Benfica loanee who arrived midway through last season. Though the 6-foot-3 striker provided size up top, Cádiz never established himself as a consistent threat, tallying only two goals and two assists in 2021. With the emergence of veteran C.J. Sapong, Cádiz got just seven starts in 23 appearances. Additionally, designated player Ake Loba is expected to play significantly more in 2022 after seeing limited minutes since his July transfer from Liga MX club Monterrey. Cádiz was one of Nashville’s most expensive players, with more than $1 million in guaranteed compensation in 2021.

The club declined the contract options for forward David Accam, who spent the season on loan at Danish club Hammarby IF, left back Nick Hinds, defender Tom Judge, midfielder Matt Lagrassa and goalkeeper Tor Saunders.

Defender Jalil Anibaba and forward Abu Danladi are out of contract and are free agents.

Nashville exercised contract options on goalkeeper Elliot Panicco, defenders Robert Castellanos, Alistair Johnston, Eric Miller, Dylan Nealis and Taylor Washington, and midfielders Irakoze Donasiyano, Luke Haakenson and Alex Muyl.

The roster moves might not be the final ones this week. Jacobs is expected to be active Sunday during the league’s half-day trade window, the last chance for teams to make changes before rosters lock ahead of the Dec. 14 expansion draft. Nashville SC is exempt from losing any players to Charlotte in the draft. MLS free agency opens the next day on Dec. 15.

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