The Wrap: Nashville SC 0-1 Indy Eleven (USL playoffs 2019)

Welcome to The Wrap, wherein I recap the content from the last Nashville SC game. This is… the last one ever at the USL level. End of an era.

Local content

The game story:

Pasher’s magical moment came on a beautiful feed from defensive midfielder Tyler Gibson, who played the striker in over the top. Pasher tapped first-time with his left foot, just tucking the ball inside Matt Pickens’s left post for the lone goal of the contest.

Nashville fans thought they may see a recurrence of late-game magic, with Justin Davis poking home a cross in the 89th minute, but Nashville SC’s left back was (correctly) ruled offside by the assistant referee, and the Boys in Gold would earn only half-chances for the final four minutes of the game in stoppage time.

The game column with quotes provided by the club:

 It would be the Eleven – a team that had struggled away from home all season – finding the moment to keep a season alive.

“It’s never a nice position to be sitting here talking about defeat but reality is, unless you’re going to lift the cup above your head, at some point you’re going to be in a pretty
disappointed mood,” said Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith. “What I will say is I don’t think the game was lost tonight on a lack of determination, passion, drive, or commitment. It was lost with probably a lack of quality in the final third and maybe that individual who was going to step forward as they had in their team and make a difference.

“So for me, I couldn’t be prouder to be leading this group. They’ve been a fabulous group of players. I’m desperately disappointed that we haven’t progressed. but if you look at the way that Indy have played tonight, I have to give them full credit. They’ve come away from home, they’ve played extremely well, they’ve shown a lot of qualities, and it was never ever going be a game that was full of goals or even goal opportunities, and the one goal that we probably all thought would get it done was just that, one goal.”

The voting post for your community ratings, and here are the results:

  • Man of the match: GK Matt Pickens: 7.17 Community comments:
    • “Mostly good, but looked utterly clueless on the goal”
    • “Forrest covered his ass”
    • “The Leader and General of this team on and off the field”
  • D Forrest Lasso: 6.77 Community comments:
    • “Asleep on the goal”
    • “‘Outstanding’ player and leader …got beat on channel run of because Pasher speed…MVP candidate”
  • D Darnell King: 6.74 Community comment:
    • “Steady and gritty professional with speed and intelligence”
  • D Jimmy Ockford: 6.59 Community comment:
    • “Grit, Guts and awesome team player. MVP candidate “
  • D Justin Davis: 5.92 Community comments:
    • “Worst player on the field for either team.”
    • “Very good player who reads the game very well…only got beat on the channel run because of Pasher speed.”
  • M Matt LaGrassa: 6.49 Community comments:
    • “Everywhere.”
    • “A grinder who leaves everything out the field …big respect ML”
  • M Bolu Akinyode: 6.08 Community comments:
    • “‘Man Of The Match'”
    • “Last ten (10) games of the season probably team MVP….Braveheart”
    • “Another solid shift, but should have been subbed out for one of the two attackers that came in late.”
  • M Taylor Washington: 5.68 Community comment:
    • “Gritty two way player with tons of speed/quickness and technical ability”
  • M/F Lebo Moloto: 5.42 Community comments:
    • “Average game tonight”
    • “I cannot understand why the club’s leading assist man and set piece delivery ace was subbed out while chasing a goal and appx. 30% of match left.”
  • M Alan Winn: 5.38 Community comments:
    • “Once again to many give aways ..doesn’t track back on defense”
    • “Good player with speed sometimes lacks good decision making…Needs to put more work consistently on the defensive side of the ball”
  • F Daniel Ríos: 5.17 Community comments:
    • “Big-money man has to do better.”
    • ““Lion Heart”…on offense and defense Team MVP”
  • M/F Ropapa Mensah (67′ sub): 6.34 Community comments:
    • “A lot to handle when he runs at players …last nine (9) games of the season he was a beast”
    • “Should have been a starter”
  • M Derrick Jones (62′ sub): 5.68 Community comment:
    • “Good upside as a #6”
  • M/F Kharlton Belmar: 5.63
  • Head coach Gary Smith: 4.17 Community comment:
    • “Frank De Boer Lite. Bottled it. After playing into Indy’s hands, inexplicably subs out top attackers while bringing on attackers late. What do you need a Dmid for when your losing late?! Indy’s MVP.”
  • Overall team rating: 5.93 Community comments:
    • “This 2019 team and organization had a great season in the USL Championship
      Nashville SC Announcers
      John Freeman: 9.5 rating
      Ronnie Woodard:6.0 rating”
    • “The road to the USL title was laid out in gold in front of us. A solid effort by Indy was enough for them to advance after a miserable failure of coaching malpractice by Gary Smith. Did I mention that he Bottled It?! The whole thing is such a damned unnecessary shame. Our guys should have gone out on top.”

The Graphical:

Even more important, though, was Nashville’s inability to move the ball from the most dangerous feeding zone on the field into scoring areas. It’s called Zone 14, have you talked to your kids about it?

Screen Shot 2019-11-04 at 11.30.55 AM
The highlighted area

As you can see, essentially all of Nashville’s successful passes within that area went to spots on the field that aren’t as dangerous. Plenty of that speaks to Indy’s quality: they not only made the passing lanes look unenticing, but when NSC attempted them anyway, the Boys in Gold were unable to convert.

The Film Room looked at how Indy’s goal came about. A few individual errors combined with some excellent play by the Eleven to get the game winner.

From the time Gibson receives the ball – about five yards toward his own endline and a couple yards wide of the center circle – to the time he launches the pass from dead center of the pitch about five yards into Nashville’s side of midfield, there’s not even token pressure on him.

Screen Shot 2019-11-07 at 10.53.31 AM.png

Regardless of how compact you intend to be, that amount of space is self-defeating for the Boys in Gold. Especially with a talented scorer like Pasher behind you (Pasher times his run perfectly to split the difference between Lasso and Davis), you have to either be in position to bother the feeder, or be on the other end of the pass, deflecting it before it can arrive, or bodying the player it’s intended for.

And the GIFening:

powertrip.2019-11-07 11_04_22

Elsewhere

Three things we learned from USA Today Network – Tennessee. The league’s game recap and look at the quarterfinal round. NSC official site recap and reflectionsNashville Post coverage.

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