For an entire half, Nashville SC seemed to be on the front foot against NCAA side Lipscomb, but the Boys in Gold could seem to figure out how to solve the puzzle of completing that final step of actually putting the ball in the net. Several solid opportunities (including a should-be penalty that went uncalled) resulted in nothing at the break, while a few solid counter-attacks from the Bisons threatened to put NSC on upset alert.
“Thought it was a little bit of a sloppy first half, and credit to Lipscomb – they competed ever-so-well,” said Nashville head coach Gary Smith. “They actually hit us on the break a couple times, which barring a couple of good recoveries and a couple of good saves could’ve been a little bit nasty.
“I think more than anything, [we were] maybe just taking one or two situations a little bit casually. Committed far too many bodies to certain attacks and left ourselves a little exposed, but all-in-all, a good outing.”
After the break though, a slight change in formation – attacking midfielder Martim Galvão’s move from the right wing to a more central role most importantly – seemed to breathe new life into Nashville. A foul on the edge of the box in the 50th minute led to a Galvão free kick that found the head of defender Ian McGrath, and then found the back of the net. In the 75th, Galvão found the back of the net himself, taking a pass from trialist Reza, dribbling centrally at the top of the 18-yard box, and coolly slotting home with his right foot.
Those two goals would be the whole story of the game, and resulted in the Portuguese youngster – for once, not the only player from NSC’s U-23 team of last season on the field, with Nashville trialing former Lipscomb star Ivan Alvarado, while striker Logan Paynter has one more year of eligibility with the Bisons – being the offensive star.
“He played on the right hand side to begin with, purely because I thought the shape might help him get in the game and be a little bit more creative,” Smith said. “When he moved inside, he looked a lot more comfortable, more natural.
“He is very, very exciting when he can run at players. He’s got a nice eye for goal, he’s very creative, and slowly but surely he’s fitting into the group very well.”
Nashville started Micah Bledsoe in goal, meaning yet another former Lipscomb player was on the field. After a season with Louisville City FC in 2017, he’s back in a familiar city, and earned the start against many of his former teammates, going the distance between the pipes.
“It is a little weird, but as soon as the game kicks off, you forget about it pretty quickly,” Bledsoe said being on the opposite end of the purple-jerseyed attack. “I’ve played with those guys and trained with them, and they come at you in training. It’s kind of just the same thing. It was a little interesting, a little surreal.”
Bledsoe made three saves in the course of the match, and keeping a clean sheet is the most you can ask of a keeper. That doesn’t mean he was without areas to improve.
“I thought he did ever so well in terms of his shot-stopping in the first half, and his ability to keep the ball out of the back of the net,” Smith said. “There were one or two areas with his distribution with his feet that can certainly be improved. Bu I would think pretty much everyone that’s walked off the field tonight will think that there’s certain areas of their game that can be improved on.”
Nashville SC will take the field again in just a couple days, and unlike this evening’s reserve-heavy lineup, look for the First XI to be on the pitch for Saturday’s trip to USL rival FC Cincinnati. Although it’s just a friendly, there will certainly be a bit of a competitive edge to the game, given that the two are likely to be among the teams battling for Eastern Conference supremacy in 2018.
- 25′ NSC sub: Ivan Sakou on for Eduardo Reza
- 25′ Lip sub: Jeff Zec on for Malik Shaheed
- 45′ Lip sub: Luke Wilson on for Christopher Zappia, Malik Shaheed on for Jeff Zec
- 50′ NSC goal: Ian McGrath (headed). Assist Matim Galvão (free kick)
- 50′ Lip sub: Cameron Botes on for Daniel Muhlbauer
- 57′ Lip Yellow: Trystan Innes (foul on Martim Galvão)
- 61′ Lip sub: Samir Eldahan on for John Wynia
- 71′ NSC sub: Eduardo Reza on for Ivan Alvarado
- 71 Lip sub: Jeff Zec on for Malik Shaheed, Austin Strout on for Logan Paynter
- 75′ NSC goal: Martim Galvao. Assist Eduardo Reza
- 82′ Lip sub: Malik Shaheed on for Ihaia Delaney
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