Nashville SC’s game in Louisville started like a dream. In the 11th minute, striker Daniel Ríos collected a short pass from Cameron Lancaster – a former member of Louisville City FC – and beautifully curled the ball into the corner of the net from outside the corner of the penalty area. The visitors had a 1-0 lead, and needed merely to hold on for dear life against a Louisville team that was dominating possession, but generating few meaningful chances.
Then, the players started dropping. Lancaster was subbed out (for Ropapa Mensah) with an injury just 29 minutes into the game, and Ríos came up lame (but remained on the field until the end) shortly thereafter. Kharlton Belmar replaced Michael Reed at the half, and midfielder Matt LaGrassa had to be replaced after an injury of his own in the 69th minute, with Lebo Moloto coming on.
In between, Louisville managed to not only ramp up the pressure, but turn it into a pair of goals. Two outstanding early saves from Nashville keeper Connor Sparrow portended poor things about what would happen when the amount of pressure ramped up, and Louisville finally broke the dam in the 65th minute.
Oscar Jimenez’s free kick service found the head of centerback Paco Craig, and whether or not the ball took a deflection on the way in, there’s no denying it found the back of the net to level the score. Just nine minutes later, Louisville would strike again, this time on the counter – notable for a team that dominated possession for much of the game, leaving few opportunities to counter-attack at all. Brian Ownby’s cross found debutante Antoine Hoppenot (who joined the team last week after a trade with Tampa Bay Rowdies), and the Frenchman made no mistake in hammering it past Sparrow.
Nashville’s attack has been potent over the course of the year (and even when the shots aren’t falling, has generated solid chances), but that wasn’t the case on this night: after the 52nd minute, they mustered but a single shot, much less any high-quality scoring opportunities.
It will be back to the drawing board for the Boys in Gold, with a little extra time to get the job done: they have next weekend off before taking on Memphis in a mid-week clash July 17.
- 11′ NSH GOAL – 14 Daniel Riíos (right foot, outside the box), assisted by 9 Cameron Lancaster
- 29′ NSH Substitution – On 3 Ropapa Mensah, off 9 Cameron Lancaster (injury)
- 36′ LOU Substitution – On 29 Antoine Hoppenot, off 36 Paolo DelPiccolo
- 45’+5 Half time
- 46′ NSH Substitution – On 11 Kharlton Belmar, off 17 Michael Reed
- 56′ NSH Substitution – On 12 Sunny Jane, off 3 Alexis Souahy
- 65′ LOU GOAL – 5 Paco Craig (head), assisted by 19 Oscar Jimenez (free kick)
- 69′ NSH Substitution – On 10 Lebo Moloto, off 20 Matt LaGrassa (injury)
- 72′ NSH Yellow card – 10 Lebo Moloto (foul)
- 74′ LOU GOAL – 29 Antoine Hoppenot (right foot), assisted by 10 Brian Ownby (left-footed cross)
- 85′ LOU Substitution – On 4 Sean Totsch, off 7 Magnus Rasmussen
- 90’+6 Full time