Saturday evening’s matchup pitted two of the hottest teams in the USL Championship against each other. It lived up to the billing with a high-scoring affair – and ultimately, a 3-3 draw for Nashville SC against Ottawa Fury. Both teams were on unbeaten streaks (4-0-4 in the last eight for Ottawa, 4-0-2 for Nashville in their last six), and both walked off the pitch at First Tennessee Park with those streaks intact.
Nashville scored early, with Daniel Ríos slotting home a square pass from Lebo Moloto in the ninth minute, but Ottawa responded with a well-hit free kick from captain Carl Haworth just before the half to take things to the locker room level.
With a game that Nashville likely felt at the half it should have more from, it was Ottawa that struck first coming out of the break. Winger Christiano François ran onto a long-ball, and although centerback Bradley Bourgeois (a halftime sub for Liam Doyle) was able to match him for pace, François’s blast from 25 yards found far-post side netting to give Ottawa a lead.
It wouldn’t take long for a response to come, though. A Justin Davis corner kick in the 55th probably could have been finished by either Ropapa Mensah or Matt LaGrassa, but Mensah won the high-jump contest to beat LaGrassa to the ball, and his forehead banged it past Irving.
Just moments after Mensah exited the lineup at the conclusion of a strong shift, the man who replaced him would score for the third time in three games. Striker Cameron Lancaster set a single-season scoring record in USL play with 26 marks for Louisville City last year, but an injury-plagued 2019 saw him struggle to recapture that form early in the year. His fourth of the season ends any discussion that he’s lost the magic. After receiving a pass from Ríos, he dribbled through an attempted tackle, and easily slotted the ball past Irving to give Nashville the lead.
Once again, though, Ottawa would respond with a solid individual play. Fall took a couple touches near the top of the Nashville penalty area and bounced a shot past Matt Pickens inside the far post to make things level at 3-3.
With little else in the game outside of a few speculative crosses and one or two potentially dangerous moments for Nashville, the sides would play out the draw over the final 13 minutes of play. Ottawa was content to settle, dribbling the ball into the corner rather than attempting to earn the victory (and seeing its keeper perhaps embellish the extent of a calf cramp), and neither of Nashville’s two shots after giving up the equalizer managed to find the frame of the net.
With the result, Nashville remains fourth in the USL’s Eastern Conference, with an opportunity to draw within a point of the top spot should the side find victory against New York Red Bulls II Wednesday. The Baby Bulls visit First Tennessee Park at 7:00 p.m. CDT, with the two sides level on points entering the game (though NYRBII holds the tiebreaker).
- 9′ NSH GOAL – 9 Daniel Ríos (right foot), assisted by 10 Lebo Moloto (square pass)
- 28′ OTT Substitution – On 26 Thomas Meilleur-Giguere, Off 4 Nana Attakora
- 37′ OTT Yellow card – 6 Chris Mannella (foul)
- 40′ OTT Yellow card – 11 Elhadji Mour Samb (foul)
- 45′ OTT GOAL – 9 Carl Haworth (right-footed free kick, foul earned by 5 Wal Fall)
- 45’+3 Half time
- 46′ NSH Substitution – On 22 Bradley Bourgeois, off 5 Liam Doyle
- 50′ OTT GOAL – 17 Christiano François (right foot), assisted by 58 Dakota Barnathan (through ball)
- 55′ NSH GOAL – 3 Ropapa Meansah (headed), assisted by 2 Justin Davis (corner kick)
- 70′ NSH GOAL – 9 Cameron Lancaster (right foot), unassisted
- 80′ OTT Substitution – On 22 Jamar Dixon, off 6 Chris Mannella
- 81′ OTT GOAL – 5 Wal Fall (right foot), assisted by 14 Charlie Ward
- 83′ NSH Substitution – On 11 Kharlton Belmar, off 3 Ropapa Mensah
- 86′ OTT Substitution – On 7 Onua Obasi, off 10 Kévin Oliveira
- 90’+5 Full time