When Justin Davis stepped to the penalty spot, the stakes were clear: if he missed, FC Cincinnati would have a very strong chance to advance in the USL playoffs. Davis missed, Cincy’s Kenney Walker didn’t, Nashville SC season over.
“All five of our penalties were amazing,” said Nashville coach Gary Smith. “Then we were down to guys that were not our first choice. Then [Cincinnati] squeaked it. I wanted so badly to win. If you don’t win, then conduct yourself with the utmost professionalism. We deserved more with the effort our guys gave tonight.”
It’s certainly a heartbreaking final result in Nippert Stadium, but it’s not a feeling of depression that arises, but one of gratitude and even hope. The Boys in Gold didn’t lose to Cincinnati in 90 preseason minutes. They didn’t lose to Cincinnati in 270 regular-season minutes. They didn’t even lose in 120 postseason minutes. In 480 minutes (390 of them competitive) against the best team in USL history, a scrappy bunch from Music City would not be beaten.
Go down 1-0 in the fifth minute of extra time? Leave it to fan favorite (and oft snake-bitten when it came to finishing this year) centerback Bradley Bourgeois to find the equalizer with 115 minutes played.
Whether you want to consider the game a draw with Cincinnati advancing on penalties, or a loss for Nashville, the end result is the same: the season is over for NSC, and it’s not for FCC. There’s a bit of regret that it came to a first-round matchup between these teams in the first place. Dropped points in a road game against Ottawa that almost certainly should have been a 1-0 win, or against Toronto at home in one that should have been a 2-1 win at worst, or any number of results that Nashville let slip through their hands… any one point would have meant avoiding MLS-bound FCC in the first round of the playoffs.
For all the bittersweet feelings about the way the season ended, though, it was one hell of a ride. That’s what fans will always remember.
“I think it’s been really fun to watch the team and the identity of this team to grow into itself and for the fans to really come behind us,” said midfielder Matt LaGrassa. We had a great group traveling and supporting us today and the way that it has all unfolded, there is just so much to look forward to in this city.”
Whether that fan is one who feels a loss of ownership in the team (in both a literal and emotional sense) as it finishes the first professional year of a transition from fully supporter-owned to an MLS side in just a four-year run-up, or somebody who discovered the squad Friday afternoon, nobody was ready for this season to end. But it provided memories that will last a lifetime. For one last time in 2018, with a look both to the season past and the future, Come on, you boys in Gold.
If you were looking for a more traditional “here is what happened in the game, here is analysis of going to the 3-5-2” game story, sorry. Start your own website and write away.
- 45’+2 – Half time
- 68′ CIN Substitution – On 6 Kenney Walker, off 27 Fatai Alashe
- 74′ NSH Substitution – On 32 Brandon Allen, off 12 Tucker Hume
- 85′ CIN Substitution – On 20 Jimmy McLaughlin, off 5 Nazmi Albadawi
- 90’+4 – Full time
- 95′ CIN GOAL – 19 Corben Bone (right foot), assisted by 6 Kenney Walker
- 98′ NSH Substitution – On 11 Ish Jome, off 27 Kosuke Kimura
- 100′ CIN Substitution – On 16 Richie Ryan, off 4 Tyler Gibson
- 104′ CIN Yellow card – 23 Blake Smith (foul)
- 105’+1 – Half extra time
- 106′ NSH Substitution – On 26 Kris Tyrpak, off 23 Taylor Washington
- 110′ NSH Yellow Card – 2 Justin Davis (foul)
- 110′ NSH Substitution – On 4 Ramone Howell, off 30 Bolu Akinyode
- 111′ CIN Yellow card – 45 Emmanuel Ledesma (foul)
- 115′ NSH GOAL – 22 Bradley Bourgeois (left footed), assisted by 26 Kris Tyrpak
- 116′ NSH Yelllow card – 22 Bradley Bourgeois (too much swag)
- 120’+1 CIN Substitution – On 10 Emery Welshman, off 45 Emmanuel Ledesma
- 120’+2 Full extra time
- PK SHOOTOUT: NSH 5 Liam Doyle, 32 Brandon Allen, 19 Alan Winn, 20 Matt LaGrassa, 26 Kris Tyrpak SCORE. CIN 9 Fanendo Adi, 20 Jimmy McLaughlin, 23 Blake Smith, 32 Justin Hoyte, 3 Forrest Lasso SCORE.
- PK SHOOTOUT Sudden death: NSH 2 Justin Davis MISS, CIN 6 Kenney Walker SCORE
- Full time