Nashville SC overcomes shaky moments to win 2019 Cup debut

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Nashville SC got a goal and two assists from winger Alan Winn, but conceded twice against USL League Two (formerly known as the PDL) side South Georgia Tormenta 2 in s Round 2 matchup in the US Open Cup. The Boys in Gold will take the 3-2 victory, but certainly with a thought in their mind that they must avoid moments of letdown if they want to continue advancing.

Winn helped start the scoring early, slotting a pass up the middle to fellow winger Ropapa Mensah, who put it past Tormenta 2 keeper Tor Sunaders with his first touch. Eight minutes into the game, Nashville had its lead.

Winn would be on the receiving end a few minutes later, with defensive midfielder Bolu Akinyode playing a ball to him over the top. Having beaten the offside trap, Winn controlled it with his chest and curled a right-footed shot to the far post.

Nashville couldn’t hit cruise control despite the 2-0 lead – though maybe the team did let off the gas unwisely for a few minutes. Tormenta cut their deficit in half just before the break, with a deflected ball arcing over Connor Sparrow’s defense. A moment of hesitation from the keeper gave Tormenta forward Adrian Billhardt the opening he needed, and he touched the ball past Sparrow before tapping it into the net as he stumbled.

The second half would again be more back-and-forth than NSC head coach Gary Smith may have wanted. Winn earned his second assist, feeding striker Cameron Lancaster on the goalmouth, but the 52nd-minute strike – again extending the lead to two goals – wouldn’t quite put the game away.

In the 68th, a corner kick encountered the heads of two Tormenta FC 2 players – first Jordan Skelton’s bounce-pass, then a head shot by striker James Meehan – and again found the back of the net. Tormenta would buzz in the final minute, but couldn’t find the equalizer, and Nashville SC took a close victory at Middle Tennessee State’s Dean Hayes Stadium.

NSC’s wide players were consistently able to break the lines of Tormenta 2’s defense, but the final product wasn’t quite there on the night. Nashville’s eight total shots included a handful more golden chances (and also excludes those that didn’t turn into shots). Smith’s second-half substitutes included midfielders Matt LaGrassa and Kharlton Belmar, two player who have seen plenty of minutes in regular-season play (and whom he’d likely have preferred to rest).

The beauty of the Cup, however, is that the only goal is to survive and advance, and on this night, the Boys in Gold did just that. Their next opponent – they’ll face Charlotte Independence Saturday in league play – can’t say the same, falling in penalties to UPSL side Florida Soccer Soldiers.

Starting lineups

IMG_06B5C5F3AE4B-1

Match events

  • 8′ NSH GOAL – 3 Ropapa Mensah (right foot), assisted by 19 Alan Winn (through ball)
  • 32′ NSH GOAL – 19 Alan Winn (right foot), assisted by 30 Bolu Akinyode (through ball)
  • 43′ SGA GOAL – 10 Adrian Billhardt (right foot)
  • 45+2′ Half time.
  • 52′ NSH GOAL – 9 Cameron Lancaster (right foot), assisted by 19 Alan Winn (ground cross)
  • 56′ SGA Substitution – On 15 Kareve Richards, off 18 Juan Pablo Puelma
  • 68′ SGA GOAL – 9 James Meehan (head), assisted by 4 Jordan Skelton (headed pass, corner kick situation)
  • 69′ SGA Substitution – On 20 Kobe Perez, off 5 Zeron Sewell
  • 74′ NSH Substitutions
    • On 11 Kharlton Belmar, off 19 Alan Winn
    • On 20 Matt LaGrassa, off 4 Derrick Jones
  • 79′ SGA Substitution – On 24 Andres Flores, off 6 Craig McCall
  • 82′ NSH Substitution – On 7 Ramone Howell, off 3 Ropapa Mensah
  • 90’+3 – Full time.

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