NASHVILLE – Nashville SC got on the board early, with Daniel Ríos scoring in the sixth minute, and they got on the board often, with Ríos adding a second and assisting Alan Winn, and Winn’s fellow winger Kharlton Belmar adding a goal of his own in the second half to cap the Nashville scoring.
Swope Park Rangers would add a goal of their own – Nashville native Felipe Hernandez would beat NSC keeper Matt Pickens in the 61st minute to provide the consolation goal before substitute strikerCameron Lancaster would score late to give Nashville one more positive note for the final 5-1 score.
Things could have even been worse, with substitute Lancaster striking the post in the 76th minute. Ríos’s fellow MLS signing also had an outstanding handle on a pass from Ropapa Mensah shortly thereafter, but physical defense at the top of the box made it tough for him to swing through. Lancaster – the USL’s single-season goals record-holder – got off the mat after having been kept off the scoresheet since the season-opener, and the garbage goal is hardly something he’ll look down his nose at as he returns to full health and form following injury this season.
Two of Nashville’s three Swope alumni found the scoresheet, with centerback Liam Doyle assisting Ríos’s first goal, and Belmar adding an assist on Ríos’s second, in addition to poking home the final NSC tally of the evening. Midfielder Lebo Moloto was kept off the sheet only by an outstanding save by Swope keeper Adrian Zendejas in the 34th minute on a shot that seemed bound for the bottom-left corner. He also would have recorded an assist on the LaGrassa shot that Zendejas saved (but couldn’t prevent from slipping to Lancaster nonetheless).
Zendejas, despite the goals conceded, was probably Swope Park’s player of the game, also denying a shot from NSC midfielder Michael Reed that looked like it would be an impressive goal. He denied Ríos the first-half hat trick on a headed chance, as well.
The offensive breakout was exactly what the doctor ordered for Nashville, which had only scored once from the run of play since April 13. Ríos’s breakout (he’d been kept off the board even longer, scoring a brace against Ottawa Fury April 6, but only notching a penalty kick late in a loss to Charleston Battery since.
The Boys in Gold need to prove they can do it against tough competition, but they have a couple weeks to build toward that. Nashville will next face Georgia Tormenta 2 in the US Open Cup Tuesday at Middle Tennessee State University, then take on struggling Charlotte Independence and Birmingham Legion in USL play. May 25 is the next date that’s circled in ink, with a trip to eighth-place Indianapolis on the calendar.
By then, we’ll know if things are going very well for the Boys in Gold. For now, all signs are pointing in the right direction.
- 6′ NSH GOAL – 14 Daniel Ríos (right-footed), assisted by 5 Liam Doyle (headed square). Goal from set piece situation.
- 14′ NSH GOAL – 14 Daniel Ríos (headed), assisted by 11 Kharlton Belmar (cross)
- 16′ NSH GOAL – 19 Alan Winn (right-footed), assisted by 14 Daniel Ríos (pass from the six-yard box)
- 39′ SPR Yellow card – 39 Jerome Ngom Mbekeli (foul)
- 45’+1 Half time
- 55′ NSH GOAL – 11 Kharlton Belmar (right-footed), assisted by 20 Matt LaGrassa (long through ball)
- 60′ SPR Substitution – On 48 Kaveh Rad, off 60 Mohammad Abualnadi
- 61′ SPR GOAL – 85 Felipe Hernandez (right-footed), assisted by 39 Jerome Ngom Mbekeli
- 63′ NSH Substitutions:
- On 3 Ropapa Mensah, off 11 Kharlton Belmar
- On 9 Cameron Lancaster, off 14 Daniel Ríos
- 65′ NSH Yellow card – 6 Ken Tribbett (foul)
- 65′ SPR Substitution – On 53 Killian Colombie, off 49 Will Little
- 70′ SPR Yellow card – 44 Camden Riley (dissent)
- 71′ NSH Substitution – On 30 Bolu Akinyode, off 17 Michael Reed
- 73′ SPR Substitution – On 96 Wilson Harris, off 91 Ethan Vanacore-Decker
- 79′ NSH Yellow card – 10 Lebo Moloto (persistent infringement)
- 89′ NSH GOAL – 9 Cameron Lancaster (right-footed, rebound)
- 90’+4 – Full time