NASHVILLE – Last year’s team couldn’t score consistently? Add the Golden Boot winner – and the runner-up in that race – to the roster. It’s the latter who remains in the mix for the award in 2019, and Daniel Ríos added to his tally with 13th goal of the year, bringing him within one of leader Solomon Asante of Phoenix Rising. (Alas, last year’s champ, Cameron Lancaster, has been in and out of Nashville’s lineup with injury).
Have problems with defense? Add one of the USL’s top defenders in the offseason, and when that player, Ken Tribbett, gets knocked out of the lineup with injury (and the Boys in Gold began to leak goals), feel free to add two players on loan from MLS teams. FC Cincinnati’s Forrest Lasso and San Jose Earthquakes’ Jimmy Ockford started the contest together, and pitched a shutout in the process. For good measure, Tribbett made his first appearance for Nashville since June 8, coming on as a substitute holding midfielder.
Ríos’s 24th-minute goal – slotting home at the end of a give-and-go with midfielder Michael Reed – wouldn’t be Nashville’s only marker of the night. Winger Alan Winn added one in the 42nd, cutting onto his left foot after a throughball from midfield orchestrator Lebo Moloto, and putting one home past Indy Eleven’s Evan Newton to provide the final 2-0 scoreline.
Both keepers put in impressive performances, with Matt Pickens making three saves, and only Newton’s brilliance on a pair of Kharlton Belmar strikes preventing the score from being even uglier. The second half passed without goals, but didn’t lack entertainment value.
Nashville’s two-goal performance saw the first USL markers in Nissan Stadium – typical home of the NSL’s Tennessee Titans – after contests against Pittsburgh Riverhounds and FC Cincinnati (before that club made its MLS debut this Summer) ending in scoreless draws. More importantly, it entertained the 13,047 fans in attendance as the club looks to build toward its own MLS debut in a year’s time.
With the win, Nashville moves up to fifth in the USL’s Eastern Conference, but has played fewer games than three of the teams higher on the table (coincidentally, Indy is the exception, with the loss holding the Eleven at third in the East with one game in-hand on Nashville).
With three of the next five games coming at home – a return to First Tennessee Park, the club’s typical home venue – and the away contests slated for struggling Swope Park Rangers and Charlotte Independence, Nashville could be poised to make a run up the table over the next several weeks.
In their final year in USL, they’re finding their form at just the right time.
- 17′ IND Yellow card – 23 Tyler Pasher (foul)
- 24′ NSH GOAL – 14 Daniel Ríos (right foot), assisted by 17 Michael Reed
- 42′ NSH GOAL – 19 Alan Winn (left foot), assisted by 10 Lebo Moloto (throughball)
- 45’+3 – Half time.
- 57′ NSH Yellow card – 14 Daniel Ríos (foul)
- 63′ IND Substitution – On 14 Ilija Ilic, off 2 Lucas Farias
- 67′ NSH Substitution – On 6 Ken Tribbett, off 10 Lebo Moloto
- 73′ IND Substitution – On 8 Matt Watson, off 19 Kenney Walker
- 78′ NSH Substitution – On 3 Ropapa Mensah, off 11 Kharlton Belmar
- 82′ NSH Substitution – On 2 Justin Davis, off 19 Alan Winn
- 90’+4 Full time.