Nashville SC

The Wrap: Nashville SC 3-1 Charleston Battery (USL Playoffs 2019)

Welcome to The Wrap, wherein I recap the content from the last Nashville SC game. The Boys in Gold advanced in the playoffs for the first time ever. Let’s run through it all.

Local content

The halftime reset and game story:

NASHVILLE – Survive and advance szn is upon us, and Nashville SC has taken care of business in its first 2019 playoff match.

The Boys in Gold got goals from Lebo Moloto, Daniel Ríos, and Derrick Jones to dominate Charleston Battery, whose lone offensive contribution came in the form of a penalty kick from Zeiko Lewis. With the 3-1 victory, the Boys in Gold will host Indy Eleven next Saturday to keep its quest for a title alive in the final USL Championship season before moving to Major League Soccer next year.

The game column with quotes from the postgame press conference:

“I felt excited because that was the team I played against when I got injured,” said Jones. “So, it’s like a little revenge back. It was a one-v-one, and obviously we were trying to come down because we were winning 2-1. I just had to take a chance, so that’s what I did, and it resulted in a goal.”

Jones, who broke his ankle early in the Open Cup loss to Charleston May 29, has rounded into form not only in his previous role as a holding midfielder, but almost exclusively since returning from that injury as an attacker. While his late-game substitutions hadn’t previously provided many chances to get on the scoresheet, he took advantage of the opportunity in this one, and showed the potential that has seen him signed to next year’s MLS roster.

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: 9.00 (tied with Derrick Jones, but it’s my blog; I get to break ties) Community comment:
    • Classic Rios hold-up play and the game-winning goal. My man of the match.”
  • GK Matt Pickens: 7.24 Community comment:
    • “Untested except for the PK. Solid distribution and direction of the back line”
    • “Hard to fault him on a PK.”
  • D Jimmy Ockford: 7.61 Community comment:
    • “Held the back line well.”
  • D Justin Davis: 7.38 Community comments:
    • “Assertive in the attack, solid in defense when called upon.”
    • “He’s the epitome of ‘just fine'”
  • D Darnell King: 7.27
    • “As always, showed spunk moving forward. Deserved his yellow card.”
    • “Steady and Solid again.
  • D Forrest Lasso 6.32 Community comment:
    • “An uncharacteristically careless penalty marred an otherwise effective night.”
  • M Taylor Washington: 7.83 Community comment:
    • Another assist for TW and some nice runs down the channel to beat Nelson.
  • M Matt LaGrassa: 7.82 Community comments:
    • “Good vision tonight. His takeaway and assist kickstarted Nashville’s night.”
    • “Glue and Grit.”
    • “Hope he’s not overlooked for MLS.”
  • M Bolu Akinyode: 7.59 Community comments:
    • “The usual backbone role for Bolu.”
    • “Warrior.”
    • “Dynamic Warrior.”
  • M/F Lebo Moloto: 7.24 Community comment:
    • “A smooth stroke got Nashville off the mark. Otherwise not incredibly incisive.”
  • M Derrick Jones (81′ sub): 9.00 Community comments:
    • “Blood and Guts Goal”
    • “Jesus.” – I know I promise not to editorialize on community comments, but it’s unclear whether this is an interjection or a title, and that, to me, is “funny.”
  • M/F Ropapa Mensah (73′ sub): 7.03
  • D Kosuke Kimura (90’+1 sub): 6.31
  • Head coach Gary Smith: 8.43 Community comment:
    • “Players get the credit, but this was domination from whistle to whistle.”
  • Overall team rating: 8.50

The Graphical:

So, with Nashville SC’s front four pressing just a bit, but focusing on wider defensive play, surely Charleston ate in the middle of the field, yeah? Not exactly:

Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 12.00.57 PM
Passmap for central midfielders 21 Angelo Kelly-Rosales and 11 Zeiko Lewis

Uh, no. It’s hard to graphically represent (including in the actions for the front four: Ríos’s token pressure doesn’t necessarily result in a defensive action or an incomplete pass, but can force an opponent to make a safer pass than the one he’d prefer) exactly the impact that central defensive midfielders have on a game with their own defensive actions. However, you can see that Kelly-Rosales and Lewis hit a dang wall when they tried to progress the ball in the center of the field after crossing midfield.

The Film Room looked at how Nashville pressed Charleston into giving up a goal, while complaining that we didn’t get to see it because of… struggles… in the production truck.

Take a second look at the overview: Nashville is basically daring Charleston to play long, knowing that it’s not in the gameplan.

A pass that gets to anyone at or near the midfield line would give Charleston a six-on-five opportunity.

Alan Winn is in position to cut off a ground pass to Higashi or Paterson, but anything over his head would probably eliminate him from the play (or at least force him to get on his horse to get involved defensively). Nashville’s centerbacks are staying deep, but would likely step forward to win a header if Charleston plays over the top.

All that, again, is strongly, strongly to the advantage of the Battery if Kuzminsky can get the ball there. Instead, the Battery insist on playing short, and it’s their downfall.

And the GIFening:

icons.2019-10-31 18_18_39
Icons, I say.


Nashville SC official site recap and game column. Local news coverage in Charleston. Some quick thoughts from’s Carson A Merk. Photo gallery from USA Today Sports Network – Tennessee column on the bigger-picture implications of a championship and the move to MLS. Three things we learned from the win. Speedway gamer, photo gallery, and player ratings. USL site coverageNashville Post‘s “staff reports” on the win.

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