And it didn’t take them several years like it did Orlando City!
Earlier this week, Atlanta United centerback – and United States Youth/Senior International – Miles Robinson had the following to say:
“It’s just a matter of focusing, dialing in and I think the group as a whole knows we have better players than them. I think we just have to go out there and prove it.”
He’s going to be mocked for saying that in the wake of Nashville’s 4-2 win over ATL UTD this evening, and to be fair, he probably deserves some of it.
But here’s the thing: Robinson is right. Line up 11 players from Music City against 11 from The A, and the Five Stripes come out with the more-impressive group almost every single time, through every permutation you can come up with. Nashville might be lucky to get four or five selections in the most charitable fantasy draft.
The problem for him is that it’s not a defense of Robinson. On the contrary, it’s an indictment: if you’re better man-for-man, and spend 95 minutes looking like a JV team up against the varsity, what does that say about your mental resolve? Your coaching? Your ability to turn talent into production? For Robinson specifically – who was responsible in part or in whole for each and every one of Nashville’s four goals – to me, “not great.”
Robinson is a bright kid, and an extraordinarily talented soccer player. Tonight, his team didn’t win. That doesn’t take away from his ability (in the least), but it does point out that the general trends in soccer – including that the team with the more expensive players, the more recognized players, the TransferMarkt-preferred players, usually wins – are indeed general trends, not guarantees.
Nashville SC came out of the blocks with a nearly-immediate goal from striker Dominique Badji, who slammed home a corner kick service at the back post after a head-on from captain Dax McCarty. When Atlanta captain Jeff Larentowicz answered on a glancing header from an Atlanta set piece, Nashville didn’t panic. instead, the Boys in Gold answered. Hany Mukhtar ran onto a throughball and finished past Five Stripes keeper Brad Guzan, then McCarty headed home a Dan Lovitz cross before the 36th minute had elapsed in Nissan Stadium.
Simply put, the rout was on.
Abu Danladi would give Nashville a 4-1 advantage early in the second half (on another McCarty assist, giving him a hand in al four of his team’s goals), and even a lovely strike from Atlanta left back George Bello could only serve to make the final score respectable. For a Nashville team that had lost to Atlanta United twice already this season – and hadn’t allowed any other MLS team to earn two wins, despite three others having had the chance – it was a cathartic victory.
It pushes Nashville SC into ninth place – a playoff position – in the Eastern conference. With a trip to Columbus (the East’s top team) beckoning next weekend, a win in this one was necessary to keep pace toward making the playoffs. The victory is sweet for that reason. But it’s even sweeter for a few others.
- 1′ NSH GOAL – 9 Dominique Badji (right foot), assisted by 6 Dax McCarty (header), 10 Hany Mukhtar (right-footed corner kick)
- 19′ ATL GOAL – 18 Jeff Larentowicz (headed), assisted by 8 Ezequiel Barco (right-footed set piece)
- 28′ NSH GOAL – 10 Hany Mukhtar (right foot), assisted by 9 Dominique Badji (headed throughball), 6 Dax McCarty
- 36′ NSH GOAL – 6 Dax McCarty (headed, deflected), assisted by 2 Dan Lovitz (left-footed cross)
- 45′ Half time
- HT ATL Substitution – On 22 Jürgen Damm, off 11 Brooks Lennon
- 56′ ATL Substitution – On 26 Jon Gallagher, off 9 Mattheus Rossetto
- 57′ NSH GOAL – 7 Abu Danladi (right foot), assisted by 6 Dax McCarty
- 61′ ATL GOAL – 21 George Bello (left foot), assisted by 14 Adam Jahn (pull-back pass), 22 Jürgen Damm
- 62′ NSH Substitutions
- On 23 Taylor Washington, off 7 Abu Danladi
- On 19 Alan Winn, off 29 Alex Muyl
- 63′ ATL Yellow card – 63′ Eric Remedi (foul)
- 75′ ATL Substitutions
- On 21 Erick Torres, off 18 Adam Jahn
- On 23 Jake Mulraney, off 22 Jürgen Damm (injury)
- 75′ NSH Substitutions
- On 21 Derrick Jones, off 10 Hany Mukhtar
- On 14 Daniel Ríos, off 9 Dominique Badji
- 86′ NSH Substitution – On 26 Tah Brian Anunga, off 6 Dax McCarty
- 90’+5 Full time
Dax McCarty settles over the ball for yet another assist, probably. From file: Tim Sullivan/For Club and Country.