Welcome to The Wrap, rounding up all the content from last week’s game before we head into the next one. As always, if I miss anything, let me know in the comments or through social channels.
At full time, the 2-0 score held, and Nashville is undefeated to begin the 2019 season.
A frustrating beginning to his Nashville career continued for winger Kharlton Belmar, who was one of the best players on the night but couldn’t find the end product that shows on the scoresheet. Should he continue to create those moments of danger, though, certainly the conversions should come.
Even if Loudoun United isn’t expected to be one of the year’s toughest tests, passing with a 2-0 scoreline provides a good feeling.
“Very pleased that we’ve got off the mark with a win,” said head coach Gary Smith. “These first games as you open up the season are very difficult. You get a little bit of tension and anxiousness in play. I honestly thought for a good majority of the game, and the stats bear me out on that, we controlled a lot of the ball. We certainly got ourselves into some very good areas, but didn’t make the most of it. That was, I felt, a bit of a feature of the game for us.”
Ultimately, a frustrating first half – including an opportunity at the goalmouth that Lebo Moloto couldn’t quite control, dribbling it wide of the post – opened up in the second, with the club’s two biggest offseason signings proving to be important ones. Strikers Cameron Lancaster and Daniel Ríos are signed to MLS contracts and slated to head to the Big Leagues with NSC in 2020, and they scored the first two goals of the season.
NSC was heavy in the action playing aggressive defense on enemy turf. Here’s a look at their defensive actions (tackles, interceptions, blocks, clearances, ball recoveries) in Loudoun’s half of the pitch:
The chronology along the bottom is a little bit enlightening, too. NSC was far more press-reliant in the first half, and by the time Cameron Lancaster broke the seal on the game, they really backed off.
Glad to see that the aggressive style kept up. A few more (unrelated) insights in there, too.
Belmar’s ability to arrive at the ball-carrier under control, give a big frame to prevent him from trying to clear the ball, and then to cleanly tackle the ball away is a huge key here.
Having the players who are ready to fire away is important when you’re going to press high: the transition opportunity will close with relative quickness, depending on the recovery speed of the defense, and a decisive move to shoot is important.
Click through on that one for the video (which I’ll admit was hastily thrown together this week). I really like doing the film breakdowns, and think they’re pretty informative about the team.
Community ratings results. Matt Pickens was relatively untested, but still the fans’ man of the match.
Official site story from NSC. USL weekly recap. Local coverage from Loudoun. Matt LaGrassa made the league’s Team of the Week bench for his efforts. Game story from USA Today Network – Tennessee. Game story and player ratings from Speedway.
Our favorite HasBeen, Brian Taylor, earns Supporters’ Trust fan of the match.