Entering Tuesday’s game in Harrisburg, Pa. against Penn FC, Nashville SC certainly had mixed feelings: the disappointment of not capturing a result in Indianapolis just over a week earlier, the confidence instilled by an improved run of form despite that loss, and the rest that a weekend off prior to a midweek game provided.
In the end, an energized Nashville SC team created chances, but couldn’t finish any of them en route to a 0-0 result against the former Harrisburg City Islanders.
“The first half was competitive, but there were numerous mistakes from both teams,” Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith said. “We had two or three chances that we didn’t
convert. The second period we kept the ball and developed pressure better than we did in the first half. The amount of clear sights of goal we had as an away team…we were by far the better group. You don’t score, you can’t win. In front of goal, we fell short.”
That’s been a bit of a common refrain for a Nashville SC team that has one of the lowest goal totals in the Eastern Conference (only Penn and two moribund Canadian teams, Toronto FC II and Ottawa Fury, have fewer on a per-game basis). In this game – similar to last week against Indy – there was a bit of a spark in creating chances. Once again though, the team couldn’t finish them.
The Boys in Gold had eight shots, four of them inside the box, but could only steer three on frame (two were blocked en route to the goal, as well). They also couldn’t quite connect on passes with the intended recipient inside the box on 13 occasions (while connecting on such passes four times), putting them just a half-step away from a goal on multiple occasions.
“I can just keep trying to work our team into good areas and get good chances,” Smith added. “I can give them new ideas, but they need to finish our chances. I am frustrated we haven’t scored. We can be encouraged by the chances, but I am disappointed to come away with just one point.”
“If we weren’t gelling we wouldn’t be creating opportunities,” said midfielder and captain Michael Reed. “We are creating those chances. Someone has to rise up and have that mentality to put it away. A couple goals and you start to build momentum. Games on the road are always tough. Every game has been a completely different atmosphere, time, surface. I think there are lot more positives than negatives to take from that one.”
Reed, who completed two passes in the box and misfired on one, also took two shots, one saved by keeper Sean Lewis and one blocked before it reached him. And Reed has a point, as well: after Nashville had only two shots on-target in each of the first two games, the threat level has certainly picked up in a major way.
The defense was a little more questionable, though a whistle-happy (and… questionably-able) referee granted a number of free kicks in dangerous positions that distorted Penn’s offensive production to the positive. Regardless, a strong performance from keeper Matt Pickens – he made two saves and punched out a dangerous ball – shouldn’t be required to shut out a Penn team that has just two goals to date on the year.
“We were solid,” Pickens said. “There weren’t holes that [Penn] could exploit. The guys in front of me played well and limited [Penn’s] chances tonight and kept things out of the box for me. The coaches prepare us well in scouting reports on the other teams.”
Smith only slightly mixed up the lineup from the previous game, putting newly signed defender David Edgar on for a full 90 minutes (in place of Liam Doyle, who came off for Edgar at halftime in Indianapolis) and starting forward Robin Shroot at right winger instead of recent breakout star Alan Winn.
The gaffer downplayed the impact of the long layoff in disrupting a bit of the team’s chemistry, with nine days off since the Indianapolis game. That’s a good thing, given that there’s an even longer gap – ten days – before the Boys in Gold hit the pitch again, this time on a trip to New York to take on Red Bulls II. Given the reputation of NYRBII (lots of goals scored, lots conceded), hopefully their style of play allows NSC to continue building confidence to break open the offense.
- 21′ NSH Yellow card – 8 Robin Shroot
- 28′ PEN Yellow card – 29 Tommy Heinemann
- 28′ NSH Yellow card – 22 Bradley Bourgeois
- 43′ NSH Yellow card – 10 Lebo Moloto
- 45’+3 – Half time
- 51′ NSH Yellow card – 3 Ropapa Mensah
- 61′ PEN Substitution – On 24 Bafoe Prince, Off 11 Jorge Rivera
- 64′ NSH Yellow card – 23 Taylor Washington
- 65′ NSH Substitution – On 3 Michael Cox, Off 3 Ropapa Mensah
- 69′ NSH Substitution – On 20 Matt LaGrassa, Off 8 Robin Shroot
- 71′ PEN Substitution – On 77 Lucky Mkosana, Off 7 Jerry Ortiz
- 75′ PEN Yellow card – 24 Bafoe Prince
- 87′ PEN Substitution – On 20 Mauro Estáquio, Off 14 Richard Menjivar
- 90′ Hilarious ESPN Plus outage
- 90’+3 – Full time