INDIANAPOLIS – Entering today’s game, Nashville SC had allowed just two goals in four previous outings, while Indy Eleven had notched just a pair in their first three contests. Double that number through 45 minutes of play from Lucas Oil Stadium. Fortunately, a late tally from Ropapa Mensah was able to keep the game within striking distance going into the break 2-1.
Soony Saad scored in the 15th and 34th minutes for the hosts. The first came on a ball over the top from La Liga veteran Ayoze, who played his striker in behind Nashville’s defense before Saad finished coolly past keeper Matt Pickens. Saad’s second goal came off a short free kick earned via a foul on NSC centerback Liam Doyle. Short service from fellow striker Jack McInerney and a wicked outside-foot bend from Saad’s strike had Pickens totally fooled from about 23 yards out.
Nashville would have a few chances – both from corner kicks and from the run of play – before finally finding the back of the net. The best chance, a strike from midfielder Michael Reed in the 43rd minute, found the crossbar after beating keeper Owain Fon Williams. The game changed shortly before the beginning of stoppage time, with striker Lebo Moloto running down a loose ball in the box, and cutting back across to Mensah, whose first touch finish snuck inside the left post. Mensah launched one seconds before the half-time whistle as well, with the ball sailing wide on a could-be equalizer. Still, with a 2-1 scoreline, Nashville has life going into the locker room.
Nashville’s shift to the 4-4-2 formation that had given them so much success in the previous two matches (two wins and a 3-0 scoreline, as compared to a draw and a loss and a 0-2 mark with the initial 5-3-2 look) didn’t seem to be much to blame for the sluggish start: both goal-scoring sequences were initiated from counter-attacks exacerbated by individual errors.
Will the gameplan change to initiate an improvement on the scoreboard? We’ll find out shortly.