Nashville SC wins a game, likely loses a captain

Michael Reed photo from file, in case the fully intact left tib/fib and ankle didn’t give it away

Mads Jørgensen definitely didn’t mean to break Michael Reed’s leg*. He just as certainly didn’t have intent to do serious harm to him. There’s a reasonable chance he didn’t even mean to foul Reed (honestly couldn’t tell you – one replay was enough to know I didn’t want to watch a second replay, to say the least).

But Mads Jørgensen is still responsible for his actions on the pitch. It’s a sporting version of the social contract we all live under: regardless of intent, if your recklessness causes serious bodily injury to an opponent (or I guess, less likely, a teammate), you deserve the punishment. An unlicensed driver whose incompetence causes an accident isn’t absolved because there wasn’t intent behind it: you did a bad thing to another person, and you pay the price.

When Jørgensen did not initially get a red card for his brutal tackle on Reed, it looked like the latest (and most damning) evidence of #USLRefs we’ve seen in a season chock-full of such evidence. A hard course-correction by the fourth official solved the error in game administration, but it couldn’t – and shouldn’t, in fairness – help Nashville’s players hit their emotional stride in the contest after seeing their captain likely end his time with their club writhing in pain in the center of the pitch because an opponent, ostensibly a professional athlete, is not coordinated enough to do the thing he does as his job. Jørgensen showed that he can’t. The USL should mandate that he may not, and probably for any of the final 10 games of Hartford’s pathetic inaugural season.

That said, Nashville finally found a touch of catharsis in the 54th minute. They found more in the 56th, and then the 64th, and very nicely closed out scoring in the 69th.

Ken Tribbett (who subbed into the game as a midfielder after… the thing that the first 402 words of this game story were about) opened the scoring on a set piece. He nodded home Taylor Washington’s corner kick to finally let the Nashville SC fans exhale in the 54th. Daniel Ríos collected a longball from Forrest Lasso and dribbled multiple bunkered-in Hartford defenders before banging home the second for Nashville two minutes later. Alan Winn made us wait an entire eight minutes before extending the lead to three. Ropapa Mensah’s knee probably guided the ball home on a Lebo Moloto corner to close the scoring.

After a moment to collect themselves at halftime, the Boys in Gold did what you might expect them to do to a defense that is already terrible. You’d have probably expected Nashville to win 4-1 against a full-strength Hartford team, so only winning 4-0 up a man for the vast majority of the contest may be a disappointment. The emotional roller coaster that the Boys in Gold were visibly experiencing until the halftime break may not excuse it, but it explains it.

Getting four goals is great, finding ways to break down a team that was deeply bunkered (and, they’ll almost certainly be extremely embarrassed about in hindsight, played up a goon act after going down a man – as though to prove that, even though Jørgensen’s play was unintentional, they are a bunch who can’t play the game and might as well play as dirty as it seemed to stay in contests – since apparently their record wasn’t evidence enough of their lack of competence, and breaking the opposing captain’s leg two minutes into the game wasn’t evidence enough that they’re a bunch of tough guys or whatever their coach wanted them to “prove” in the remaining 87 minutes) was good, even if it took too long to keep Nashville fans happy.

The effort won’t be good enough in coming contests, at least not all of them. Hopefully Nashville SC can mentally recover quickly enough to play at a more stable emotional level in future games – even when their emotional leader likely won’t play at all. Reed’s emphatic passing of the captain’s armband to recent centerback loan signing Forrest Lasso certainly feels like the made-for Hollywod moment they can carry forward with them into future games, providing that intangible lift.

The next game comes against another low-performing side in Bethlehem Steel, who gave Nashville a bit of trouble (in insane circumstances) just a couple months ago. The game kicks off Saturday evening at 7:00 p.m. from First Tennessee Park. With a win, Nashville SC would solidify its grasp on the No. 3 spot in the USL’s Eastern Conference, and set up a six-pointer against No. 2 New York Red Bulls II just 11 days later.

*(in all likelihood on the nature of injury – I’m not a doctor, I am not diagnosing an injury, etc. etc. I just know a foot isn’t supposed to be pointed 120 degrees backward).

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