Nashville SC

Johnston earns Man of the Match in starting debut, but Nashville SC splits points at Dallas

A pair of late misses – a shot rung off the post by Dominique Badji in the 64th minute, followed by David Accam’s half-field shot sailing just wide of an open net in stoppage time – will have Nashville SC regretting a scoreless draw in Frisco Sunday evening. But after taking a victory against FC Dallas earlier in the week, finishing a four-point weekend (in the early hours of Monday morning) is hardly something to look down upon.

After three and a half hours waiting in the locker room for lightning to clear (broken up by a few false starts before strikes in the area sent the team from the tunnel back into the Toyota Stadium interior), there was never a doubt this would turn out to be something of an odd game. #MLSAfterDark never truly struck, but Nashville did feel like the dominant team on the road, against one of the stronger sides in the league.

Nashville created far more danger in Sunday’s game, with 21 total shots including seven on-target. But that magic moment didn’t come through despite a more consistent performance against a Dallas team that was eager for revenge after the upset in the mid-week.

The defensive unit for the Boys in Gold managed to keep Joe Willis far less busy, as well. Whereas he saved five shots in his Wednesday shutout, Dallas managed to put just one shot on-frame in the game – and it was an easy save to Willis’s chest. His outfield players blocked six Dallas shots, and in a stark contrast to his workload in the midweek, Willis had the opportunity to mostly relax.

The game saw the Nashville SC debut for Jalil Anibaba, who stepped in at right back, and the first professional start for rookie Alistair Johnston, who had come off the bench earlier in the week. Taylor Washington, a favorite from Nashville SC’s USL days, made his big-league debut after a previous stint in MLS with the Philadelphia Union never resulted in any playing time.

It was Johnston who was the breakout star. Named the man of the match in its immediate aftermath – despite playing slightly out of position as a right winger, rather than right fullback – Johnston fired a dangerous shot in the first half (that resulted in an equally-dangerous opportunity for Randall Leal on the rebound) and also launched a long cross to Hany Mukhtar that resulted in a shot for the attacking Designated Player. By the time Washington replaced him in the 66th minute, Johnston had planted his flag as a player to watch for the whole league going forward.

The new haircut he sported (after a “congrats on your first appearance” clip provided by Beckleles Wednesday evening) didn’t slow Johnston down at all.

Nashville now has four points in four games after beginning the year with two losses. The Boys in Gold next take the field Saturday with a trip down I-24 to try to exact some measure of revenge on Atlanta United. The Five Stripes spoiled NSC’s debut in the league with a road win in front of 59,069 fans on the season’s opening weekend. After losing striker Josef Martinez in that contest, the team hasn’t been the same, and manager Frank de Boer was shown the door after three losses in the MLS is Back tournament (former ATL UTD 2 coach Stephen Glass is the interim).

A Nashville team that has a very different brand of confidence after a strong pair of games in Dallas could be ready to take the next step toward a strong season.

Starting lineups


Match events

  • 40′ DAL Yellow card – 29 Franco Jara (foul)
  • 45’+1 Half time
  • 56′ DAL Substitutions
    • On 9 Fafa Picault, off 19 Paxton Pomykal
    • On 7 Jesus Ferreira, off 13 Zdenek Ondrášek
  • 66′ NSH Substitutions
    • On 21 Derrick Jones, off 8 Randall Leal
    • On 23 Taylor Washington, off 12 Alistair Johnston
  • 73′ DAL Substitution
    • On 16 Ricardo Pepi, off 29 Franco Jara
  • 73′ NSH Substitution – On 7 Abu Danladi, off 9 Dominique Badji
  • 74′ NSH Substitution – On 11 David Accam, off 10 Hany Mukhtar
  • 83′ DAL Substitution – On 11 Santiago Mosquera, off 21 Michael Barrios
  • 69′ NSH Yellow card – 6 Dax McCarty (argument)
  • 90’+3 Full time

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