Nashville Soccer Club Defenders Walker Zimmerman, Shaq Moore Join USMNT Fitness Workouts

Pictured: Walker Zimmerman and Shaq Moore. Photos: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Nashville Soccer Club stars Walker Zimmerman and Shaq Moore have been called in by the United States Men’s National Team to participate in its fitness workouts from Oct. 25-Nov. 5 in Dallas.

These workouts are for MLS-based players who are in contention for the World Cup roster and no longer in league competition. 

The U.S. Soccer Federation will host an exclusive roster reveal event at Brooklyn Steel in New York City on Wednesday, Nov. 9 to announce the 26-player roster representing the U.S. in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. 

Zimmerman has solidified himself as a mainstay on the U.S. Men’s National Team, earning 33 caps since making his debut on Feb. 4, 2017, and serving as captain six times. The centerback is tied with Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams and Antonee Robinson for the team lead with 10 caps in 2022. 

Zimmerman made 10 appearances for the Stars and Stripes in 2021, leading the United States to an 8W-1L-1D record, with six clean sheets and a 20-6 positive goal differential. In 2022, Zimmerman has led the United States to a 5W-2L-3D record in matches he’s appeared in.  

At the club level, Zimmerman was elevated to Designated Player status on April 29. This season, Zimmerman was featured in the 2022 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target, in Minnesota and appeared in 30 matches for Nashville SC, tying a career-high for appearances in a season.   

Moore has earned 15 caps for the United States Men’s National Team following his debut on June 2, 2018 in a friendly against Ireland. Moore was a key player in the U.S. Men’s National Team’s quest to win the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup, including a 55-minute shift in the 1-0 victory over Mexico in extra time. Most recently, the right back appeared in four qualifying matches for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.  

Moore joined Nashville SC this summer via a transfer and appeared in 11 matches for the Boys in Gold, solidifying the right side of the defense to an Audi MLS Cup Playoff clinching berth.

MLS Players Association Release Salary Guide, Walker Zimmerman Highest Paid Defender

Walker Zimmerman. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

The MLS Players Association (MLSPA) has released its annual salary guide, and with it comes a deeper look into Nashville SC’s payroll.

The highest paid player for Nashville, clocking in at a base salary of $2,088,225 and a guaranteed compensation of $2,345,214, is Walker Zimmerman. Zimmerman was just signed to a new contract earlier this year and was named as one of Nashville’s Designated Players. The two-time MLS Defender of the Year has been one of the biggest signings in the club’s short history.

Zimmerman is also the highest paid defender in the league and 28th highest paid overall.

Second on that list is Hany Mukhtar with a base salary of 1,637,500 and guaranteed compensation of $1,926,250. Nashville SC extended his contract this year along with Zimmerman, and also named the German international a Designated Player. Mukhtar is coming off his best season in 2022, winning the Golden Boot and is currently the favorite to win the MVP.

Mukhtar solidified himself as one of the top players in the league in 2021, finishing with 16 goals and 12 assists, and being the MVP runner-up. Compared to the other top players in the league, his base salary is quite low. With players like Chicharito (LA Galaxy) and Josef Martinez (Atlanta United) making between $3 million and $7 million, Nashville SC hit the jackpot for how much they are paying for Mukhtar compared to his performance.

One salary that may surprise some is Ake Loba‘s, whose base salary is $1,250,000 and guaranteed salary is $1,491,475. Loba has unperformed since joining Nashville SC, and this season he played in 21 games, scoring one goal in 300 minutes played.

Other notable player salaries are Randall Leal and Aníbal Godoy who are making $850,000 and $800,000, respectively. Leal had a solid season making a lot of chances for Nashville’s offense and creating opportunities. Godoy had a slow season as he suffered injuries on and off through 2022.

Recently acquired defender Shaq Moore has a base salary of $700,000, and longtime attacker CJ Sapong is making $550,000. NSC goalkeeper Joe Willis has a base salary of $300,000.

For more details about Nashville SC player salaries and other salaries throughout the MLS, go to the MSLPA website.

Nashville Voices: Nashville SC PA Announcer Chris Chapman

The job of a public address (PA) announcer is one of the jobs that can sometimes go unrecognized. For some fans, it’s just part of the game that doesn’t even register unless something of great importance happens or an important announcement is made. However, their job is arguably one of the most important for a live game experience. They become part of the stadium experience and grow into an integral part of the team’s identity.

For Nashville SC’s new home, GEODIS Park, Chris Chapman is filling that role.

“I’ve really enjoyed it. There’s an excitement about it and its fun to do,” Chapman shares with The Sports Credential. “Even as a kid, I used to go in my closet and do intros and outros to music because I thought it be cool to talk on the radio. All of those things have built me to where I am now.”

Chris Chapman. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Chapman has been working in PA announcing on the TSSAA level for over a decade and for Nashville SC for five seasons, but has been working in media for most of his life. A graduate of Baylor University, he received a degree in TV/Radio/Film where he began his journey working in live production.

His part-time gig with Nashville SC began in 2017 when the USL club at the time needed a PA announcer to fill in, but as a soccer fan and Nashvillian, he and his son began going to games in the club’s early years.

“We bought season tickets to go to the games through one of the early founders club,” Chapman explains. “Then I heard USL was coming and I thought, ‘You know what, I’m just going to apply, I’m going to send in my information just to check on things.'”

Initially, the club wasn’t looking for outside PA work but his name was already on their radar. Chapman and his son continued to go to games, one day attending a fan fest where he approached Chris Jones, the current Senior Director of Fan Engagement & Entertainment with the club.

The ball started rolling from there.

“He said the guy who usually did the games had three games he couldn’t do so I went up for a couple of games and sat in to get the lay of the land at Vanderbilt Stadium. Then I did the last three games that season,” he recalls.

Nashville SC fans at Nissan Stadium. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

From there, he took the role seriously and made sure he knew exactly what he needed to know going into games and being as prepared as possible. After his first season, he kept reaching out to see if there was a full-time opportunity. Finally, the club asked him to be their sole PA announcer after receiving a string of applications.

Chapman was a first hand witness to the growth of the club from its PDL days, to the USL and finally the MLS, while also going from a one man team to a full team alongside him.

“The excitement of being at the first game at [Vanderbilt Stadium, First Horizon Park, Nissan Stadium and GEODIS Park] has been pretty cool and I’ve had great experiences,” Chapman notes. “I was at the first USL exhibition against Atlanta United and it was raining cats and dogs, but the people were still there. The thrill to be able to work it and trying to contain your excitement, but still be super excited at the same time, was pretty amazing.

“When we were announced to be an MLS team, I went to the announcement at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum not knowing if I was going to move forward with the team. I hoped I would because of the work I put in for it, but things and people change. I was thrilled when they asked me to be part of the MLS change.”

In high school and college, Chapman dabbled in everything from working on the morning announcements and emceeing for events at his school, as well as interning at radio stations in his native Texas. His first PA opportunity was in college when a friend asked him if he wanted to be the announcer at a local semi-pro baseball game.

Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

“I had spotted for PA announcers before but I had never done it. I thought, ‘Sure, I’ll do it,'” Chapman says. “I went out there and it was just me, the score sheet and a microphone. They handed me the score sheet and asked, ‘By the way can you keep score, too?'” he adds with a laugh. “It was an interesting introduction to say the least. If I were judging myself on that first time out, it was not good at all, but it was definitely an opportunity to get my feet wet.”

Chapman was raised by a Baptist minister and had a calling to become an ordained minister after graduating from Baylor. His father’s church had a decent TV presence, which is where his fascination for broadcasting really began. Since college and joining the ministry, he’s never left the media world, as he primarily worked in TV and media at the churches he’s served at. He’s currently the Director of Digital Media for the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville and has been with the convention for 22 years.

While he was serving as the Minister in Springdale, Arkansas, he had another opportunity to be the PA announcer for Shiloh Christian School in Springdale. He went on to be the announcer for their football team for three years, covering playoff games and working behind the scenes before moving to Nashville in 2000. 

For 10 years, he was out of the PA announcing and sports world until his son began playing soccer at Franklin High School around 2011.

“The parents said, ‘We don’t have anyone to PA, is there anyone interested?’ I said, ‘I’ll do it, I’ve done it before,” Chapman explains. “We kind of created our own atmosphere. I did, and still to this day, use the iPad to play music, I write the scripts and we got it down to a script setup.”

Dax McCarty and Walker Zimmerman at GEODIS Park opener. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

He picked up the announcer job for the girls team as well, and after his son and daughter graduated, he kept on doing it and hasn’t stopped since.

Throughout his 10 plus years of doing PA, Chapman has been part of many great games, including calling his kids’ games at Franklin, TSSAA regional tournament games and NSC thrillers. Not much can compare, though, to the club’s first MLS game against Atlanta United at a sold-out Nissan Stadium in 2020.

“There is no way to describe what it was like at that first MLS game against Atlanta,” Chapman reminisces. “There were 59,000 people in the stands and people were excited. It was a thrill to be at the game, and it was a thrill to be part of the atmosphere and environment of the game.”

Chapman has been an integral part of the game day experience for the die-hard Nashville SC fans and has been able to create his own atmosphere and traditions throughout the years in each level.

“There are some things that we do on a regular basis that are the same, but over the years in PA, you realize that people like having some of those traditional things that they can count on when they’re in the stands,” Chapman explains. “Whether you announce a goal or announce a card, people get used to that cadence. It has been fun in each one of those levels to establish my style.”

Randal Leal after scoring Nashville SC’s first-ever goal at GEODIS Park. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Finally being at GEODIS Park and having a permanent home after spending over five years as nomads, was something that Chapman admits was really special. Though the first MLS match at Nissan Stadium was a career highlight, the first game at GEODIS Park might take the cake.

“I’ll never forget the opening announcement and the crowd excitement,” Chapman shares. “The coolest thing about being a stadium announcer is that you instantly get feedback from the crowd. It’s almost like maneuvering a big ship. You get to move all these people with your voice and, the way they respond, you get to hear their reactions instantly. That first game was pretty spectacular.”

Though he takes his job seriously and is very meticulous when it comes to preparing, understanding the game and knowing the players, Chapman can’t help being over excited at times when watching this team play. He arrives to the stadium almost four hours early to go over anything before kickoff, but once the game starts, he becomes as much of a fan as the ones in the stands.

“I’m a huge fan of the game and I’m a huge fan of Nashville. During the game I’m standing up and I’m trying to see who’s doing what so we know what happens. I’m in the game. Sometimes I might be overreacting in the booth, but luckily it’s just me and a few of my closest friends.”

Hany Mukhtar Named MVP Finalist After Winning MLS Golden Boot

Hany Mukhtar. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Nashville SC Designated Player Hany Mukhtar has been named a finalist for the 2022 Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player Award in a season that can only be described as sublime.

Along with Mukhtar, other MVP finalists include early season MVP favorite Sebastián Driussi from Austin FC, Cristian Arango from Supporters’ Shield-winning LAFC, likely Goalkeeper of the Year Andre Blake from the Philadelphia Union, and Mexican superstar Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez from LA Galaxy.

Mukhtar has been the biggest playmaker for Nashville this season being involved in 34 of Nashville SC’s 50 goals. He scored a league-high 23 goals and 11 assists for 34 goal+assist ratio–the most in the league. He was named Player of the Month in August, contributing to 12 points with seven goals and five assists, where they won four straight games. His performances in August arguably carried the club to its third-straight MLS Cup Playoffs.

No other Nashville SC players were named a finalist for any other MLS Year-End Award.

The Boys in Gold begin their playoff journey on the road on Saturday, Oct. 15 against LA Galaxy. NSC played the Galaxy twice this season, losing 1-0 in their first meeting in April and drew 1-1 in September.

Analysis: Despite The Win, The Titans Still Have Work To Do Ahead Of Bye Week

Ryan Tannehill vs. the New York Giants on Sept. 11. Photo: Courtesy of the Tennessee Titans

The Titans are getting a much needed break this week with a bye after just barely beating the last place Washington Commanders 21-17 on Sunday (Oct. 9).

This marked Tennessee’s third straight win, but they are still struggling to muster up any offense in the second half. In each of the last three wins, the Titans have scored just two touchdowns in the second half, tallying no points against the Raiders, and seven against the Colts and Commanders. Their victory over the Colts on Oct 2 was the only win of the season so far where the team had at least a one score lead.

These issues need to be flattened out if they want a chance to be at the top of the AFC South.

“[These players] have a responsibility to the football team that when they can’t perform and do their job, they stay here and get treatment,” said head coach Mike Vrabel in his Oct. 10 press conference. “I don’t think they are going to have much of a vacation outside of [the training facility].”

Injuries continue to plague the team with inactives this past weekend, including Ugo Amadi, Amani Hooker, Bud Dupree and Nate Davis. Davis is just another member of the offensive line to be sidelined for injury as questions regarding the line continue to grow bigger and bigger. Coming into the season, the O-line was one of the biggest concerns about the Titans and, so far, it has been their biggest obstacle.

Second-year O-lineman Dillon Radunz had to replace Davis on short notice and did enough to help the Titans win, which was recognized by Vrabel who celebrated Randuz’s last minute performance.

“I thought that Dillon had some good plays going against a very good front, interior rushers and active linebackers,” Vrabel explained. “I thought he went in there and played well enough for us to win.”

Earlier this season, veteran tackle Taylor Lewan announced a season-ending surgery. With the lack of experience from Randunz and rookie Nicholas Petit-Frere, the Titans have a lot of work to do to get these guys up to par for the remainder of the season, pending any future injuries.

Another injury that’s raising concerns is first round draft pick Treylon Burks who was hurt in the Titans win against the Colts and placed on the Injured Reserve list ahead of the Commanders game. The Titans are lucky his injury came right before the Bye Week as he’ll have time to rest up and get ready for the remainder of the season.

So far, Burks has shown some glimpses of talent, but has yet to make a real mark on the team. In the four games he’s played in, he’s had a high of five catches and a high of 55 yards–which came in Week 1–with no touchdowns. Reworking him as a valuable scorer will need to be one of the priorities for Vrabel and offensive coordinator Todd Downing.

“We’ll use the time to the best of our advantage to try and get guys healthy and give some guys some rest that have played a lot of football for us,” Vrabel noted. “We’ll find ways to improve.”

One of the more positive notes for the season thus far is how well the defense is playing despite the injuries and poor performances by Caleb Farley.

Outside of the Monday Night Football disaster against the Buffalo Bills, the Titans defense has only given up 76 points. In the past two games, Tennessee has only given up four touchdowns. They had one interception and three forced fumbles against both the Colts and Commanders, and the interception against the Commanders was an extremely clutch game-ender by David Long Jr.

This Bye Week is also a great opportunity to get the defense healthy ahead of its matchup against the Colts at Nissan Stadium. The Titans defense can be the team’s saving grace if the offense continues to struggle throughout the season. Members of the defense who are on the injured reserve include, Amdi, Hooker, Dupree, Joe Jones, Zach Cunningham and Ola Adeniyi.

In the end, the Titans still have a lot of work to do, and it probably won’t be finished by the Bye Week.

Taking advantage of the rest of the AFC South’s weaknesses will be key if the Titans can’t pull their head above water. They just need to win the division and, for how bad the rest of the field is, they have a very good shot if they can get healthy and stay healthy.

Nashville Soccer Club Business Association To Host Job Fair At GEODIS Park

The Nashville Soccer Club Business Association today announced it will host a job fair this Friday, Oct. 14, from 9-12 p.m. CT on the South Concourse at GEODIS Park.

The job fair will have available part-time and full-time positions in the food industry, hospitality, event day staff, transportation, logistics and sales. Parking is available in Lot 9, and attendees will need to enter through Gate G. There is no cost to attend the job fair. 

Some of the participating companies include C Spire, Coca-Cola Consolidated, Daddy’s Dogs, GEODIS, Gray Line Tennessee, Kroger, Lipman, Luckey Hospitality, Mapco, Nashville Soccer Club, Sherwin-Williams, Spirited HIVE, Taco Bell, The Westin Nashville, United Rentals and Vanderbilt Health.

NSC joins the Titans and Predators in hosting local job fairs to support the greater-Nashville communities.

Hany Mukhtar Claims Golden Boot, Nashville SC Playoffs Set

Hany Mukhtar‘s magical regular season came to an end on Sunday (Oct. 9) as he finished with the most goals, winning the MLS Golden Boot.

Mukhtar scored 23 goals and 11 assists, contributing to 44.2 percent of all of Nashville’s goals this season. His 34 goal contributions are also most in the league, which makes him the heavy favorite for the 2022 MLS Landon Donovan MVP Award.

“I feel amazing, it’s a big honor,” Mukhtar noted in a press conference. “I’m very grateful to my teammates, the coaching staff and the whole organization. It’s a big achievement for me and I’m very proud of it. It was a very good season for me, now I’m looking forward to the playoffs because that’s where it counts.” He added, “It will be tough coming back to LA to take on the Galaxy. We had a tough game there earlier in the season, but we are capable of beating them.”

His offensive prowess has led the Boys in Gold to its third-straight playoff appearance. NSC is now one of only four clubs to reach the postseason in each of their first three seasons.

Nashville’s final match was against the Supporter Shield winner LAFC, whom they beat 1-0 in what was arguably goalkeeper Joe Willis‘ best performance of the year.

Willis had a career-high 14 saves, which included a brilliant penalty shot save in the 45+1 minute. His 14 saves were the most made by a keeper in the MLS this season.

Teal Bunbury gave Nashville the win when he scored a goal in the 53rd minute off of a Mukhtar corner kick.

“Joe [Willis] set a record in terms of saves, which tells you a little bit of a story,” said head coach Gary Smith in a postgame press conference. “I’d like to really reinforce some of the qualities that are going to see us succeed in these playoffs or not. There’s the fact that for periods of the game, it certainly wasn’t possessionally moving in our direction. The guys I think showed a lot of courage off and on the ball.

“They found a way to score a goal and, for only the second time this season, have beaten terrific champions [in their home]. For that I’m incredibly proud of the group.”

Sadly, Nashville needed not only the win, but for Dallas and LA Galaxy to lose in order to claim a home playoff game. Both teams won, meaning NSC is headed to the playoffs as the fifth seed and will head back to Los Angeles on Saturday, Oct. 15 to face LA Galaxy in round one of the MLS Cup Playoffs.

The match is set for 2 p.m. CT and the winner will go on to play LAFC in the Western Conference Semifinals.

Nashville SC Clinch Playoff Berth For Third Straight Season, Lose 2-1 To Houston

Photo: Courtesy of Nashville SC

Nashville SC is back in the MLS Cup Playoffs, making history yet again by being one of four clubs to go to three-straight MLS playoffs in its first three years of existence.

They officially punched their ticket when the Portland Timbers lost 2-1 to LAFC on Sunday afternoon (Oct. 2). The Boys in Gold had a great opportunity to slide into third place in the conference, but lost to Houston 2-1 in their final home game of the regular season.

“Being able to advance to the playoffs for a third consecutive year is something we are all so proud of, and know it puts our club in exclusive company,” says Nashville SC General Manager Mike Jacobs. “The players and staff have worked so hard to put our club in this position, and can now press along with trying to achieve the best seed possible as we prepare for the postseason.”

Nashville’s road to a playoff berth in 2022 has been far from easy. In the summer, the club was struggling to produce goals and was piling up draws and losses, notably failing to pick up wins at home. The club had an impressive start, beginning the season with eight consecutive road matches before opening GEODIS Park. Nashville SC finished the stretch with more points per game (1.38) than any other team in league history to start a season with eight or more matches on the road.

In August and September, Hany Mukhtar exploded by leading the team to six straight games with a point, four of which were wins. In that stretch, Mukhtar scored nine goals and two assists. The German international is currently the MLS MVP frontrunner as he leads the league in goals with 23 and goals+assists ratio with 34.

NSC currently sits in fifth place with 47 points in the Western Conference with just one game remaining against Supporters Shield winner LAFC. Nashville hosted LAFC on July 17 and lost 2-1. A win against LA would be a huge momentum boost and could push them into third place, which would guarantee at least one home playoff game.

The Boys in Gold play LAFC on Sunday, Oct. 9. at 4 p.m. CT.