Nashville SC

Triple Wrap: Nashville closes out the regular season with three straight wins

Welcome to The Wrap, wherein I recap the content from the last Nashville SC game(s). Yes, you are correct in thinking that “triple wrap” sounds like a fast-casual restaurant’s menu item. Also: if you haven’t voted in the community ratings for the Charleston game, make sure to do so.

Nashville SC 2-1 Louisville City FC

Local content

The game story:

It was the substitute Spencer who managed to put his head onto a loose ball floating around in Nashville’s box that looked like it would rob Nashville SC of an important three points.

However, Nashville’s propensity for late heroics – entering the game, they’d scored 10 goals in the 75th minute or later this season, including two in stoppage time – got one of its most memorable moments yet. Ockford’s goal – after his would-be set-piece winner against Birmingham Legion was (correctly) ruled an own goal and removed from his statistical record – gave Nashville everything the Boys in Gold needed: all three points.

The game column with quotes from the postgame press conference provided by the Club:

 It’s the third time his team has found a stoppage-time winner – this one in the 92nd minute – at First Tennessee Park this season, with Ockford himself forcing an own goal against Birmingham Legion in late September.

“I saw a perfect ball in,” he said. “My eyes were on it the whole time, and I had a good feeling that I was going to get something on it. I barely had to get anything on because it had so much pace. It felt good. Good contact.

“We know that we don’t give up. We give it everything we have until the final whistle and it shows. It’s happened multiple times now which is good. It’s good for the group.”

Louisville had entered the game on a 10-match unbeaten streak, and the visitors had every reason to believe they’d be able to continue that run against one of the top teams in the East.

The voting post for your community ratings, and here are the results (don’t forget to vote each game!):

  • Co-Man of the match: GK Matt Pickens: 9.43 Community comments:

    • “Last save edged him above Lasso for MOTM”
    • “Co Man Of The Match”
  • Co-Man of the Match (usually I cast a tiebreaking vote, but I’ll let it stand this time): D Forrest Lasso: 9.43
    • “J/K, he was still MOTM”
    • “Unreal save”
    • “Co Man of the Match. Warrior and Leader extraordinaire.”
  • D Jimmy Ockford: 8.85 Community comments:
    • Goal! He seemed to be sleeping on Louisville’s goal, though
    • Unreal header
    • Knight in shining armor tonight…fights with every part of his being ..Goal was Fabulous⚽️
  • D Taylor Washington: 8.44 Community comments:
    • Goal!
    • Fabulous Goal⚽️..watched it again on replay wasn’t an easy
  • D Justin Davis: 7.47
  • D Darnell King: 7.39
  • M/F Ropapa Mensah: 7.70 Community comment:
    • Ropapa has been on Fire “Magical” both sides of the ball this game .. Lots of energy and belief”
  • M Bolu Akinyode: 7.01
  • M Matt LaGrassa: 6.88
  • M/F Lebo Moloto: 5.86
  • F Daniel Ríos: 5.44 Community comment:
    • Not sharp
  • D Bradley Bourgeois (74′ sub): 6.44
  • M Derrick Jones (74′ sub): 6.29
  • F Kharlton Belmar (87′ sub): 6.15
  • Head coach Gary Smith: 7.50 Community comments:
    • “Went too defensive too early. Fortunately the players bailed him out.”
    • “Stop parking the bus when you are up. 4 -5 the time this hurt us”
  • Overall team rating: 8.00 Community comment:
    • “Gritty team effort… bend and not break defense. Lasso and Pickens were nothing but grit and steel tonight. The referee was awful tonight.

The Graphical:

Something we’re used to seeing when Nashville SC faces an odd backline is an offensive gameplan centered around crossing (for reasons we’ve discussed plenty of times: in short, that’s what the defense baits the offense into doing). In this one, though, it was Nashville going with three at the back, and Louisville incapable of finding many ways to solve it.

Here are the teams’ respective crosses from open play:

Screen Shot 2019-10-14 at 1.09.31 PM
Louisville’s attack on the left, Nashville’s on the right

That’s Louisville forced into plenty of crossing – with literally not a single one successful from open play – and Nashville being sparing with its own crosses, and firing successfully a third of the time.

And the…/nashville-sc-gets-a-pair-of-headed-goals-to-take-down-north-carolina-fcIFening:



The league’s gameday reportSpeedway game story and player ratings. The team site’s official story and column.

Nashville SC 2-0 North Carolina FC

Local Content

The game story:

NSC’s concession of the ball paid off in the 70th, though, with a beautiful counter-strike. Substitute Taylor Washington pushed the ball up the left flank, and spotted a streaking Moloto on the back post. His early cross played Moloto into acres of space, and the South African’s leaping header was precise, tucked just inside the far post.

Nashville managed to regain control of the run of play, and saw out Matt Pickens’s 13th clean sheet – all-but assuring him the USL’s Golden Glove award come the end of the regular season.

The game column with quotes provided by the Club:

Nashville doesn’t win this game without him, starting with Mensah’s goal.

“It’s something that we’ve worked on the whole year,” he said. “I think it’s always good to finally be on the front foot with set pieces. I think it’s good that we actually are doing well in terms of scoring set pieces, so credit to him for jumping the highest and finishing.”

…and his sublime diving finish on service from Washington to cap the scoring.

“I mean I think it was three-v-three,” Moloto explained. “I made eye contact with Taylor and [striker Daniel] Ríos made a good run to go to the front post which kind of dragged all their players so I was able to drift out wide and good ball from Taylor. He says I did the hard part but it was a good ball. Good ball, good header, good goal.”

The voting post for your community ratings, and here are the results (don’t forget to vote each game!):

  • Man of the Match: M Lebo Moloto: 8.88 Community comments:
    • “MOTM. Our most creative attacker, and along with Justin, a very good set piece delivery man.”
    • “Brilliant game offensively.”
  • GK Matt Pickens: 7.75
  • D Forrest Lasso: 8.29 Community comment:
    • “Outstanding effort”
  • D Jimmy Ockford: 7.69
  • D Justin Davis: 7.30
  • D Darnell King: 6.74
  • M/F Ropapa Mensah: 7.68
  • M Matt LaGrassa: 7.53 Community comment:
    • “Strong game”
  • M Bolu Akinyode: 7.48 Community comment:
    • “Steel in the middle”
  • M/F Alan Winn: 6.14 Community comment:
    • “Glad to see him getting mins. He’s spent way too much time on the sidelines of late.”
  • F Daniel Ríos: 6.36 Community comment:
    • Wanna believe that Rios is getting closer to getting his groove back.”
  • D/M Taylor Washington (66′ sub): 8.44 Community comments:
    • “Changed the game.”
      “Beast on defense and offense. 100% passing “
  • M Derrick Jones (85′ sub): 6.66 (🤘)
  • M/F Kharlton Belmar (73′ sub): 6.22
  • Head coach Gary Smith: 6.88 Community comment:
    • “Deserves credit for switching to the 4-2-3-1. We were in a better flow and seemed more dangerous.”
  • Acting head coach Brett Jacobs: 7.86
  • Overall team rating: 7.72

The Graphical was a double-whammy with the Atlanta game, so you’ll see the same link later:

Against NCFC, we saw both teams in the same 4-2-3-1 philosophy. That applied both to the starting lineup and how the starters’ movements averaged out over the course of the game.

NCFCformations.2019-10-25 09_08_38

The central defensive midfielders stay close, the striker plays off the right attacking shoulder of his No. 10 (conveniently, both teams’ wearing the number itself in this game), and the fullbacks keep relatively conservative positions, rather than defending high up the field and overlapping to average a position that’s across the midway line.

However, with those parameters established, we can also see where Nashville SC got better play to win the game.

The Film Room looked at Taylor Washington’s play to create Nashville’s insurance goal:

I’m not positive if Washington has a pressing trigger there, or if he just sees an opportunity and takes advantage of it, but the quick-change opportunity is one that plays out well for Nashville. By intercepting a pass between a holding midfielder and the fullback on his side, he gives his team a numbers advantage.

Screen Shot 2019-10-25 at 3.48.47 PM

You can barely see D.J. Taylor, the intended recipient of Viktor Igbekoyi’s pass, running into the frame. There’s no way he’s going to be able to catch up with Washington. Similarly, the left fullback, Aarón Guillén, has no chance of catching up to Moloto.

…and the GIFening:

gary red.2019-10-25 14_02_07


The league’s gameday report. WRAL Sports Fan with coverage from the Carolina end. Speedway gamer and player ratings. NSC official site recap and column.

Nashville SC 3-0 Atlanta United 2

Local content

Game story:

Instead, the suspense was more about individual accomplishment. Could Ríos add two more to win the USL’s Golden Boot? (No). Could Matt Pickens keep a clean sheet to comfortably win the league’s Golden Gloves Award? (Yes).

In front of 6,773 fans, Nashville SC rode out the final 50-plus minutes to complete the 3-0 victory, and wrap up the franchise’s tenure in the USL regular season before moving to Major League Soccer next year.

The postgame press conference.

The voting post for your community ratings, and here are the results (don’t forget to vote each game!):

  • Man of the Match: F Daniel Ríos: 9.19 Community comments:
    • “So exciting to see these goals. His frustration was evident after previous attempts, but he worked past it with incomparable skill.”
    • “Back in the saddle”
  • GK Matt Pickens: 8.81 Community comments:
    • “Couple great saves, but otherwise bored in the box.”
    • “On absolute fire”
  • D Forrest Lasso: 8.69 Community comments (I think this is a 2019 record for number of comments after fewer peoiple have been leaving them than did last year):
    • “Stellar all around…except his dance moves.”
    • “Team Leader who leads by example”
    • “Nothing but Grit and Heart”
    • “Please, please stay”
    • “Dominant Again”
  • D Jimmy Ockford: 7.61 Community comment:
    • “Dynamic as always, disrupting attacks and preventing ATL2 from gaining momentum in key moments”
  • D Justin Davis: 7.59 Community comment:
    • “Along with Lebo, continues to provide superior set piece delivery”
  • D Darnell King: 7.44
  • M Bolu Akinyode: 8.61 Community comment:
    • “Besides Rios…Man Of The Match”
    • “Bolu was key to the #1 Defense in the USL Championship in the middle spine. Passing on the year near 87%”
  • M/F Ropapa Mensah: 8.03 Community comment:
    • “Ropapa put in a great half. Amazing to watch his control of possession. Like the cool-headedness in Ríos but at any moment can erupt into the explosive speed of Winn. It’s been incredible watching him evolve, even just over this season.”
  • M Matt LaGrassa: 7.79 Community comment:
    • “Outstanding game…picked up 1st and 2nd balls all game…passing was clean
      More reliable field coverage than the grass”
  • M Lebo Moloto: 7.61
  • M/F Alan Winn: 7.44 Community comment:
    • “Usain in the membrane”
  • D/M Taylor Washington (HT sub): 7.61
  • M Derrick Jones (63′ sub): 7.21
  • F Cameron Lancaster (63′ sub): 6.81
  • Head coach Gary Smith: 8.04 Community comments:
    • “Not much to prep for with how things went last weekend. Stay the course.”
    • “Glad he kept the momentum rolling and started 4 attackers again”
  • Acting head coach Brett Jacobs: 8.58
  • Overall team rating: 8.62 Community comments:
    • “Great team cohesiveness. Stay that way for the next 4 matches.”
    • “Only 1 MLS team won a playoff match with less than 2 goals scored (Atl). Hope Gary notices, too, and continues to start 4 attackers. Ya gotta score to win.”

The Graphical (same story as linked above, with two separate sections):

Of course, given that Nashville was mostly seeing out a result by the time they entered the contest, there wasn’t a ton for either of them to do. Here’s their every-action map (attacking left-to-right):

Screen Shot 2019-10-25 at 9.48.11 AM
Rectangles are pass game, triangles up are defensive, triangles down are dribbles, pentagons are fouls

Solid passing, with the unsuccessful attempts most when trying to get the ball into scoring positions (i.e. times that taking a risk is worth it for the potential payoff), and aside from one unnecessary foul committed by Lancaster, not a whole lot negative to point out. Again: game situation made it such that neither was going to have a ton to do.

I did find it interesting that Jones played mostly as a true No. 10, as has been the case in most of his recent performances.

The GIFening:

The little grin and “wassup” nod at the end of the thumbs-up just kill me


NSC site recap and column. Speedway gamer and player ratingsTennessean coverage(!!). Make sure to follow their new beat writer, Drake Hills.

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