Photo courtesy Minnesota United FC
NASHVILLE – Nashville SC made a major addition to its defense on Thursday with the announcement the club had signed former Minnesota United defender Justin Davis for its inaugural season in the USL. Davis will be joined by midfielder Bolu Akinyode and defenders Michael DeGraffenreidt and Josh Hughes in Nashville, with the signings pending league and federation approval.
“All four of these defensive players will bring passion and energy on the pitch,” head coach Gary Smith said. “They will fortify our defense and have big impacts on the club.”
Davis played for the past seven seasons in Minnesota, where he made a club-record 171 appearances and served as vice captain for MNUFC’s inaugural season in Major League Soccer in 2017. The 29-year-old helped Minnesota claim the league championship in 2011, and was an All-League selection in three consecutive years between 2014 and 2016.
Akinyode is a former member of the U.S. U20 Men’s National Team who brings prior USL experience from the New York Red Bulls II and Bethlehem Steel FC. A native of Lagos, Nigeria, the holding midfielder came through the Red Bulls Academy, and most recently competed for North Carolina FC in the 2017 season, where he won 36 of 45 tackles and had a passing accuracy rate of 88.2 percent on 50.9 passes per 90 minutes in his 22 appearances for the club.
New Nashville SC midfielder Bolu Akinyode celebrates a goal for the New York Red Bulls II in the 2015 USL season / Photo courtesy Ben Solomon / New York Red Bulls II
DeGraffenreidt will make his professional debut as he joins Nashville after a stellar four-year career at the University of Louisville. A third-round selection in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft by New York City FC, DeGraffenreidt suffered a knee injury last preseason with the MLS club and has spent the last year returning to full fitness. While at Louisville, the 23-year-old made 76 starts, including 18 as a senior during which time the Cardinals recorded 10 shutouts.
Hughes is a former member of the Harrisburg City Islanders, where he made 22 appearances in the 2016 season. A former standout in the Premier Development League for FC London, with which he claimed the 2012 PDL Championship, the 26-year-old also previously competed for the Atlanta Silverbacks in the professional ranks.