NASHVILLE – It’d be fair to say that Nashville SC’s two newest signings have paid off already for the Boys in Gold. Ish Jome assisted Brandon Allen on the doorstep to open the scoring in the 36th minute against Penn FC:
Shortly after the halftime break, Allen continued his run of form, assisting fellow striker Lebo Moloto for a bar-down strike at the top of the 18-yard box:
It was a far cry from Nashville’s previous meeting with Penn FC, in which the Boys in Gold created numerous opportunities, but squandered them with inaccurate passing, shots off-target, and giveaways inside the opposing penalty area. Of course, the game featured plenty of that early – and from both sides – with Matt LaGrassa’s early cross to Allen left wanting when the striker couldn’t control the chested trap, and Jome had a shot blocked from the top of the box in the first half, as well. Penn had their fair share of chances, with Richard Menjivar putting a shot on net (though after a twisting side-volley, without the necessary power to trouble Pickens), and Tommy Heinemann coming up inches short on an opportunity to slide one in from the top of the six-yard box.
Nashville’s opening goal showed how slim the margins can be between utter disappointment and a cruise to victory. Once Allen’s ball found the net, it seemed the pressure left the pitch, with NSC more able to play freely. Moloto’s goal only made it a two-score advantage, but from that point forward, it felt like a rout.
The Boys in Gold could have added to the lead in the 69th minute, when Matt LaGrassa’s low-angle shot from short range was punched away by Penn keeper Romu Peiser, but a number of players in the box couldn’t get a foot to it to bang one into the open net.
Penn FC would pull one back in the 76th minute, with a cross past the face of goal headed back where it came from… but Matt Pickens’s save of the week candidate was for naught when the ensuing corner kick resulted in a Ken Tribbett header into the back of the net.
Late subs would seal the deal for Nashville SC, though. Winger Alan Winn – who has been limited with a minor injury – had just hit the field moments before the Penn FC goal, and striker Ropapa Mensah – who left Wednesday’s mid-week tilt against Pittsburgh Riverhounds due to illness – shortly after it. They wouldn’t take long to combine to grow the lead back to two.
Captain Michael Reed and right winger Matt LaGrassa completed a nice combination play to get Mensah the ball at the right edge of the six-yard box. His attempt to chip a charging keeper was blocked away, but a clearance off the line from a Penn FC defender went directly to Winn, who scored the easiest goal he’ll ever find in a Gold uniform:
Winn’s goal was the third of the match, the most scored in league play by Nashville SC this season (they matched it in their US Open Cup win against Mississippi Brilla FC, and also against Orlando City SC and Chattanooga FC in preseason). A team that couldn’t score to start the year may have just found its stride at the right time.
Nashville is next in action Wednesday at 7:30 when the Boys in Gold host MLS side Colorado Rapids at Vanderbilt University. The game is the fourth-round matchup in the US Open Cup, and NSC may have an opportunity against the worst team in Major League Soccer.
- 36′ NSH GOAL – 32 Brandon Allen (left foot) from 11 Ish Jome
- 45’+3 – Half-time
- 46′ PEN Substitution – On 8 Dan Metzger, off 15 Miguel Jaime
- 48′ NSH GOAL – 10 Lebo Moloto (right foot) from 32 Brandon Allen
- 54′ PEN Yellow card – 26 Frederick Opoku (foul)
- 60′ NSH Substitution – On 30 Bolu Akinyode, off 11 Ismaila Jome
- 61′ PEN Substitution – On 21 Calvin Rezende, off 9 Aaron Dennis
- 72′ PEN Substitution – On 7 Jerry Ortiz, off 26 Frederick Opoku
- 74′ NSH Substitution – On 19 Alan Winn, off 23 Taylor Washington
- 76′ PEN GOAL – 4 Ken Tribbett (headed) from 7 Jerry Ortiz
- 79′ NSH Substitution – On 3 Ropapa Mensah, off 32 Brandon Allen
- 81′ NSH GOAL – 19 Alan Winn (right foot), unassisted
- 88′ PEN Yellow card – 14 Richard Menjivar (dissent)
- 90’+3 – Full-time