From the film room: Brandon Vazquez scores on the Boys in Gold

Please drop me a line here or on Twitter about how I can make this feature even more useful for you. I want to be as helpful as possible in helping folks understand what happens on the pitch, and why those things happened. Thanks to Robbie Melton for the suggestion of narrating the video.

If you want to read/watch something a little more pleasant, I direct you to the first goal in Nashville SC history breakdown from yesterday. Today, however, I take a look at what went wrong when Brandon Vazquez put Atlanta United back on top (for good) Saturday afternoon.

Here’s the video with the chalk talk built in:

And if you want a better look at the moment of truth:

Nashville SC Atlanta United soccer Brandon Vazquez video
Michael DeGraffenreidt passes off to his fellow defenders, but nobody stops ball.

So, despite my sterling narration, there are still a few things to unpack here. First and foremost, this happened in large part because Nashville SC was pushing forward to try to get a winner, and there was a turnover in the midfield. That prevented Taylor Washington from being involved in the play, and it seems likely that the NSC defenders are a little more comfortable with their five-man backline, and didn’t properly execute the fundamentals expected with just two centerbacks (and there could be an argument that Washington shouldn’t be quite as high up the field without defensive cover with fewer players back).

Of course, this doesn’t turn into a quick counterstrike if not for a turnover, so remove that giveaway and there’s little to worry about. If Akinyode and Hughes are able to track back a little faster (it seems the main reason that at least Akinyode wasn’t back is that he was man-marking Kratz and didn’t see the urgency when his team had a significant numbers advantage).

Lastly, the communication and fundamentals between DeGraffenreidt, Doyle, and Dunstan needed to be better. From my perspective – and I won’t claim to know the specific coaching points in NSC’s tactics, but speaking generally – DeGraffenreidt did the right thing by forcing Nagbe to cut to the right (where there was help), then passing him off to the centerbacks in order to follow Williams. With a numbers advantage, Doyle sinks into a pure sweeper spot, and that’s where Dunstan needs to step to the ball, even if it’s generally risky (remember, less so in this situation with a sweeper next to him). Attempting a tackle gives you a chance to stop Nagbe, sinking deep allows you to prevent a cross or get in the way of a shot… he was caught in no-man’s land.

The good news? These are correctable errors, mostly through simple repetition in training sessions (remember, NSC has based out of a 5-3-2 and probably reps it much more; we don’t know how significant a part of the plan a four-man backline is in the long run anyway). Getting those game reps against outstanding competition – Dunstan probably didn’t see many Darlington Nagbe-level talents in the NPSL last season, just a guess – will prepare NSC for the USL slate. That’s why you play live friendlies in preseason, to get ready.

Take it, learn from it, and get better from it. I’m confident NSC will be able to do just that.

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