Transcript: Gary Smith, Micah Bledsoe after 2-0 victory over Lipscomb University

Nashville SC’s skipper and starting keeper in Thursday’s victory over Lipscomb met with the press after the game. Here’s what they had to say.

Micah Bledsoe nashville sc soccer lipscomb university bisons
Micah Bledsoe started and went the distance against his alma mater. Tim Sullivan/For Club and Country

Micah Bledsoe

General comments:

“Happy to get the win. 2-0 win in a shutout. Obviously, the defense kept things organized for the most part, and we were able to create some opportunities. It’s always nice to be back at the home field.”

Playing against Lipscomb

“It is a little weird, but as soon as the game kicks off, you forget about it pretty quickly. 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.”

Impressions of his position-mates

“Matt and CJ are both very experienced, especially Matt. It’s great training with them, because you pick up things that they’ve – they’ve played 12-13 years of pro soccer, so just you pick up things just by watching them train, and we all help each other out, so it’s a great experience. We all push each other.”

His performance:

“As far as shot-stopping, I feel like I made a couple good saves. I’d like to clean up the distribution a little bit: a couple misplaced passes, but that’ll just come with work. Overall, pleased with the performance individually and as a team we were able to get the win, so you can’t be disappointed with that, either.”

Playing with Nashville SC as compared to Louisville City last Summer:

“With Louisville last year, we were a very successful team. It was a good experience, good first year to get in there. Coming to Nashville obviously was something I was very happy about, just being familiar with the area. Obviously, being a part of the club’s first season, there’s a lot of new things, everything’s new. I’d say that’s the biggest difference: the fresh start.”

The introduction of a pro team in cultivating local talent:

“Definitely. When you’re playing in college and you can go right down the road and watch a pro game, that’s something you can compare yourself to, pick things up just by watching the game. That’s a big thing to have. I’m sure eventually with the club level as the team progresses, there’ll be an academy structure and all that, which will just help the game grow and help kids have something to look forward to and aspire to be.”

Gary Smith

On the game:

“I’ve not really spoken to them yet, but the evening was all about making sure some of the younger players got some good minutes and some good competition, which we certainly had. It was trying to build some relationships. Alan [Winn] and Ropapa [Mensah] up front to begin with have not played together before, so I wanted to see what that looked like. Ultimately, just really trying to make sure that we’re still moving in a positive direction and there’s some good foundations and some good habits that the players are getting into. Thought it was a little bit of a sloppy first half, and credit to Lipscomb – they competed ever-so-well. 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.

Martim Galvão’s performance:

“Really well, and not just Martim, a number of them. 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. When he moved inside, he looked a lot more comfortable, more natural. I think he’s taken a lot on board in the last month or so. He’s trying extremely hard to link up with others, and to make the right choices. But what I or anyone else doesn’t want to do is to take away that individualism. 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.”

On Winn and Mensah’s pairing:

“There were a number of moments – more so Alan to be honest – I’m not sure that was a foul when Alan got himself in a very good position. There were three or four opportunities that maybe with a slightly better finish, we’d have taken a little bit more advantage of. Quite pleased with the way that their movement took them into good areas and stretched out the game. Lipscomb did sit quite deep, and they padded out that central area which was tough to break down. It was important that we found a way of breaking that group down. Very wide field, trying to stretch them out and certainly control and build a lot of pressure. But in terms of the partnership, pleased. I’ve been pleased with the way that pretty much everyone has conducted themselves up front. Alan’s a very, very nice late inclusion to the group. He’s very versatile, he runs with the ball well, he’s got a bright, inventive mind, and we’ve seen he’s also got an eye for goal as well on the weekend.

On the recent trip to Florida:

“I have to say it was an absolutely wonderful trip for numerous reasons. Great time for the group to spend together – staff as well, lot of new staff that have come together – but more so for the players. We had a couple of events in the evenings that were nice socially as well. Training on the grass rather than being on the turf field, which I think was good for a number of different reasons. The competition was great. Chicago game, I thought we – with a more senior group for 60 minutes – played ever-so-well throughout, and the young lads when they came on and ran into a very experienced group, I thought showed very very well. The Ottawa game was a flip-flop of that: the younger group started and acquitted themselves extremely well against quite an experienced Ottawa team. It was nice also to see our first USL group. And then the senior group came on and in fairness dominated the game, but couldn’t score, so we had other challenges: they sat very deep and something else that we need to try and look at and work teams out. The Orlando game was the toughest game, and it was a real shame that we weren’t able to show footage of that [publicly]. They had a very strong side out. The more experienced senior group [for NSC] played 70 minutes. After going a goal down and we were completely dominated for the first 10 or 12 minutes: they played very very well Orlando and went 1-nil up. The recovery and the mindset, determination to get back in the game and then go on and win it was great.”

Micah Bledsoe’s performance:

“I like him a lot. He’s a great lad, he’s a really hard-working individual. He’s got two extremely talented and experienced goalkeepers at varying degrees in front of him. He knows that he can only get better in this environment. It’s a really good development group for him to be in. I’m sure that – not just games like today, but ongoing – he’s going to be a better person and a better individual at the end of the season. Look, likely it is that those two guys are going to take the brunt of the games and the minutes, but he needs to be ready: that’s why he’s here. 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. 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.

The team approaching in-season fitness:

“That was part of the plan: we had – when Michael DeGraffenreidt played 90 minutes in the Ottawa game, and then we had four of the senior group – we had Liam [Doyle], Justin [Davis], London [Woodberry], Lebo [Moloto] played 90 minutes against Orlando. All of the young guys now have played 90 minutes [today]. At the weekend, I’ll be looking to try and stretch out some of those other guys. I think they’re in a very good physical place. They’re moving forward nicely game-by-game. I’m seeing improvements in all areas of the field. Defensively, we’ve looked sound from the outset, but layering in that creative and attacking mindset of the group whilst also being solid and not easy to break down or play through is part and parcel with building a group. Slowly but surely every game, we’re improving every department of how we play.”

The upcoming Cincinnati game:

“It’’ll be a completely different group up there. I genuinely think if Alan puts his strongest group out, it’ll be our toughest game. Just purely because they’re an intraconference group. He’s made some very good additions to that group in the offseason. I’m sure with the proximity of the teams, they’ll want to o well. They’re unbeaten in preseason at the moment. In my mind, it will be the biggest challenge and probably the most realistic challenge that we’re going to run into. So, I’m looking forward for much the same: that there’s improvement in our game. The result really is immaterial because it’s preseason, but let’s not all think that winning a game is not important, because it is. If the group that I put out for the opening exchanges do well again, I’ll be very very pleased.”

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