Nashville SC announced on Thursday the acquisition of Ghanaian winger David Accam from Columbus Crew SC for $350k in GAM / $100k in TAM. Accam will spend the rest of 2019 in Major League Soccer with the Crew before the deal goes into effect on January 1, 2020.
Accam's primary attribute is his pace. While in Chicago, he was arguably the fastest player in MLS. He is at his most dangerous when he's able to get in behind the defense and get onto the end of a ball played through the lines. Although he may not have quite the pace that he did 2-3 years ago, he's still in the upper echelon of quick MLS players, and will stretch the field if allowed to get in behind.
Accam looks for pockets of space on the back line and looks to isolate his defender 1v1, similar to Kharlton Belmar for Nashville this season. "His general ability 1v1 to go beyond players, to affect the game, whether that’s with the ball, without the ball or creating for someone else," said Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith. "I’ve got to say, he is an incredibly exciting player for the club to have landed.”
He tends to be pretty direct with the ball, looking to get to goal quickly. He typically plays as an inverted winger on the left, but has played in a more central role at times. In 2019, he's played as a striker in a 4-1-2-1-2 formation three times. He's not an elite level finisher (15% conversion rate in MLS), but he's really dangerous around the 18-yard-box, and gets in good areas to receive the ball and shoot quickly.
While Accam has never made an MLS Best XI, at his best he's probably in the next tier of MLS players. In the below video, Bobby Warshaw gives a good breakdown of his style of play and his potential impact on Columbus Crew SC.
Throughout his five seasons in MLS, Accam has been a pretty consistent producer. He had a bit of a dip in 2018, but in the first part of the 2019 season he's seemed to be back at a high level, and the system he'll be a part of in Columbus will only help him get back to his best.
As mentioned earlier, apart from the 2018 season, Accam's numbers are pretty consistent. He consistently outperforms his xG (G-xG is +5.3), and he plays an impressive number of key passes (passes that lead directly to a shot).
"Every team wants to have forwards that you can look at and almost pencil in X amount of assists and chip in with X amount of goals," said Smith. "I think David is at the top end of the lists that we can put together, which is why he became such a big target for us in that category."
In the right system, Accam is almost unplayable, truly in the upper echelon of wingers in MLS. When he's not, he can go missing from games and fail to leave an impact. Will Gary Smith and Nashville SC play to his strengths next year and get the most out of him?