Welcome to The Wrap, wherein I recap the content from the last Nashville SC game. The Boys in Gold – however briefly – climbed to the top of the Eastern Conference with a win Saturday evening.
The game story:
Ropapa Mensah’s 19th-minute cross (it actually appeared to be a shot – a little foreshadowing for later in the game) was slotted home by Daniel Ríos to give Nashville the early lead, and Mensah would double it himself, again striking with the right foot from a tight angle and this time finding the far post in the 55th.
In between, Mensah – along with several of his teammates – exerted some dominance over a youthful Loudoun United sign, while the DC United reserve team was able to express its potential… but unable to handle the size, strength, and speed of the grown men on the other touchline.
The game column with quotes from the postgame press conference provided by the Club:
Mensah would complete the deed himself just a minute later. Again finding himself an inch of space in a dangerous area close to the endline, Mensah tried once more to strike inside the far post. This time, he needed no help to finish. His blast beat Loudoun keeper Earl Edwards to the far post, and tucked inside to provide the winning margin.
“It feels great especially going into the final matches of the season,” the 21-year old Ghanaian said of his performance. “I stepped up tonight when the coach and the team needed me, but of course that wouldn’t be possible without the help of my teammates.”
A rise in his form at just the right time was welcome for Nashville.
The voting post for your community ratings, and here are the results (don’t forget to vote each game!):
- Man of the match: F Ropapa Mensah: 9.28
- GK Matt Pickens: 8.25 Community comment:
- “Not much to do.”
- D Taylor Washington: 8.06
- D Justin Davis: 7.38
- D Ken Tribbett: 8.24
- D Jimmy Ockford: 7.98
- D Darnell King: 7.63
- M Bolu Akinyode: 7.38 Community comment:
- “Having an outstanding season on both sides of the ball…very consistent”
- M Matt LaGrassa: 6.88
- M Lebo Moloto: 6.30 Community comments:
- “Needs a goal to get confidence back”
- “Good player …”Special” when he plays simple 1-2 touch…
missed 2 open sitters “
- F Daniel Ríos: 8.34 Community comment:
- “Was close a couple times.”
- F Alan Winn (70′ sub): 7.14
- M Derrick Jones (82′ sub): 6.38
- F Tucker Hume (76′ sub): 5.86
- Head coach Gary Smith: 7.63 Community comment:
- “Could have gone for the kill a bit more”
- Overall team rating: 7.91
Here’s a hybrid graphic with the offensive players’ heat maps, and the back seven players’ average positions superimposed.
You can see the complementary nature of the two halves of the ball. Davis and Washington are in good positions to cover the area that Moloto isn’t able to cover defensively, while LaGrassa provides an outlet for rotating the ball on offense.
The Film Room looked at the ways in which Ropapa’s game has grown this season… and still has more room for growth.
Teams can (and often do) scheme to try to prevent Mensah from getting on his right, since they know there’s not a ton to fear with the left. How did he get time and room on his right for the goal, then? Apparently, the rumors of his left foot’s demise (or non-existence) have been greatly exaggerated!
And the GIFening:
NSC official site recap and game story. Ropapa was justifiably the Man of the Match, though it was Daniel Ríos honored by the league. Speedway recap and player ratings. Local paper coverage in Northern Virginia. must be nice. The league’s gameday report.