NASHVILLE – Jimmy Ockford will stay in gold.
Nashville Soccer Club announced on Wednesday that it had extended the loan of the 27-year-old defender from San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer. Originally classified as a “short-term loan,” the loan will now last until the end of the 2019 USL Championship season.
Ockford has energized the Nashville SC defense since coming to the Music City on July 15. In the two matches since his arrival, Ockford has started both matches, playing every minute as the defense earned two clean sheets. He was a force for Nashville SC on Saturday in its 2-0 home win against Indy Eleven at Nissan Stadium. Ockford accrued six clearances, four more than Indy had as a team, as he and fellow newcomer Forrest Lasso started as a centerback pair.
“I feel great about it," said Ockford. "I’m really happy I get to spend the rest of the season with Nashville. It’s a good group of guys and it’s been a lot of fun already. I’m looking forward to the rest of it.”
While Ockford has shown his defensive abilities, he also showcased his offensive touch with a goal in his first match with Nashville on July 17 in a 2-0 win over in-state rival Memphis 901 FC.
Needing a shake up to the backline after allowing eight goals in four matches following the injury to centerback Ken Tribbett, Nashville SC GM Mike Jacobs and head coach Gary Smith brought Ockford in to provide stability and an MLS presence to the position. The move, paired with a season-long loan of Lasso announced last week, has paid immediate dividends as Nashville SC has yet to allow a goal since the acquisition. For Ockford, the extension gives him peace of mind about the rest of 2019.
"Two weeks ago when I came in here, everything was way up in the air," Ockford said. At first it was just two weeks I was going to be here, but now that I know for sure, it’s kind of very relaxing.”
Talking about the two July loan acquisitions of Ockford and Lasso, Smith offered his thoughts in his post-match press conference following Saturday night’s victory.
“I thought both of them were immense in that middle part of the field. There’s many different ways of having players in there and types of players that you can have. I think we’ve got some terrific defenders here, full stop. But these two guys, I believe, bring more out of others. They have a presence, they’re ready to carry others on their shoulders when things are difficult, and it gives confidence to players in front of them. It’s a quality that you can’t measure. At the professional level, you want more of those types of players than less. There are plenty of players that can show what they’re about, but they need others around them to lift them. These guys lift the group, and they did that tonight.”
Nashville SC will be back on the road on Saturday night to play Swope Park Rangers, but will return home on Wednesday night for a midweek tilt against Hartford Athletic.