In the days leading up to the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, Seattle Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer and other members of the technical staff interviewed several prospective players. Schmezter’s line of questioning was a simple one.
“Why should we take you? What do you have to offer to us?”
“[Schmetzer] was asking me to make a case for myself, which a lot of teams didn’t do, they just wanted to ask me simple questions,” Nana-Sinkam told SoundersFC.com. “I really appreciated the honesty in that question. He was making me prove to him that I deserve the opportunity.”
Nana-Sinkam didn’t have to do too much convincing. His resume speaks for itself.
The Cardinal senior captain finished his collegiate career with 67 starts and as a two-defending NCAA champion. He anchored one of the nation’s best defenses that allowed just 13 goals this past season.
Sounders General Manager and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey mentioned on Friday that he likes drafting winners, and Nana-Sinkam is confident he can contribute to the defending MLS Cup champions.
“Coming from what’s been a great, championship college program these last few years to what is now another championship environment, it seems like the perfect transition,” Nana-Sinkam said. “One thing I developed at Stanford was a really great work ethic, on and off the field. I like to consider myself a smart center back and that’s something I’m improving upon every day.”
Nana-Sinkam is excellent at organizing midfielders in front of him as well as defenders around him. He reads the game well and plays with an anticipatory mindset, one that’s crucial for defenders at the professional level. Technically, Nana-Sinkam is good at defending 1-v-1 as well as in open space. He’s confident on the ball and a poised distributor who makes effective simple passes to teammates’ feet and builds well from the back.
Despite standing just 6-feet tall, a relatively short height for a center back — Chad Marshall and Roman Torres are 6’4” and 6’2”, respectively — Nana-Sinkam models his game after a player of similar stature who has had plenty of success.
“[Sporting Kansas City and U.S. national team defender] Matt Besler is someone I really look to,” Nana-Sinkam said. “Besler is only 6-foot, but he’s a great, organized center back. I was lucky enough to pick his brain when the U.S. [men's national team] came out to Stanford. That was cool getting to hear him talk.”
Nana-Sinkam knows the transition to the pros will not be an easy one, but he mentioned more than once how willing and eager he is to get started. He fills a definite need on the Sounders’ roster — Seattle had only three center backs heading into the draft — and he’s ready to prove he belongs.
“I understand I’m coming into a professional environment, so I’m coming in with the mindset of learning,” Nana-Sinkam said. “I have a great opportunity to go up there and work hard and earn my spot on the team.”