Welcome to The Wrap, running through all the postgame content after Nashville SC’s 4-2 handling of once-great Atlanta United.
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 indictmentSept. 12, 2020
They scored early – within a minute of the opening kick – and often, with a 3-1 halftime lead representing as many goals in 45 minutes as they’d scored in the previous six games combined. Capping things off with a second-half goal from winger Abu Danladi meant four different Nashville SC players scored – all of whom notched their first for the club.
“They’ve achieved something tonight that we haven’t done all season and that’s get ourselves on the scoresheet on multiple occasions,” said head coach Gary Smith. “I felt there were some displays tonight that really offered a different dimension, not just for individuals but for the group…”
Smith had described Atlanta united as a “bogey-team” earlier in the week, and that was a fair assessment.Sept. 15, 2020
The Graphical looked at a few bright signs from the game… but also the disappointment in ability to find the back of the net (or the front of it):
Atlanta United played its more stay-at-home right back (Franco Escobar, whose secondary position is CB) over its more adventurous one (Brooks Lennon, who actually started in his secondary position, right midfield, before being yanked at halftime), but… Nashville still found it pretty easy to get in-behind up the offensive left flank. Here are NSC’s four goals, and the key passes on the three run-of-play goals:
That’s a one-v-one matchup win by Dan Lovitz (2) over Lennon in the corner, and balls over the top to players streaking through the center off the field from midfield (9 and 6, Badji and Dax McCarty, respectively) under little duress on that left flank. The runners were… not particularly perturbed by the central defenders for Atlanta, either.
A pair of film breakdowns with more Atlanta ball-watching than you can shake a stick at*. First, Dax McCarty’s headed goal:
Crosses can obviously lead to goals, but they’re generally a low-probability tactic. Letting a guy launch even from the edge of the penalty area isn’t the worst outcome. Crosses are even less successful when a stout defense like Atlanta closes down open grass in dangerous areas, and tracks runners into the box. Certainly the vaunted Five Stripes wouldn’t be caught ball-watching.
Alternatively, every Atlanta eyeball can be tuned in to Daniel Lovitz’s new cooking show, where his debut episode breaks down an effective recipe for Roasted Brooks Lennon.
…and Dom Badji’s easy back-post finish from a set piece:
Mukhtar stands over the corner, delivers a ball to the top corner of the six-yard box, and finds teammate Dax McCarty there. Nashville’s captain earns his first of three assists on the evening by heading to the back post, where Domonique Badji has a simple, nearly-uncontested, finish.
“To see a set-piece that we’ve worked on numerous times work in the first – I don’t know what it was – minute or two minutes of the game, we exploit that near post,” McCarty said.
*offer not valid for people who can shake a stick at like 15 instances of ball watching
And finally, the voting post for Community Ratings, and your results:
Don’t forget you can type in the box below the numerical value each week!
- Man of the match M Dax McCarty: 9.23 Community comment:
- “Big Red Captain was Fantastic”
- GK Joe Willis: 7.57
- D Dan Lovitz: 8.59 Community comment:
- “Outstanding game on defense – nothing came down the right side”
- “*Lost his mark on the set piece goal, otherwise he deserved a 9.0 “
- “Eat it, Scuffed.”
- D Dave Romney: 7.80
- D Walker Zimmerman: 7.44
- D Alistair Johnston: 7.02
- “Again another solid performance overall. Positioning and read of the game are his strengths. Has to work on recovery speed and quickness “
- “He’s come back down to earth after some exceptional games, but that still means very good performances”
- D Dan Lovitz: 5.60 Note: some incredibly hilarious comedian gave him a 1 rating, so this number is artificially deflated.
- M Aníbal Godoy: 7.82 Community comment:
- “Pound for Pound is the team MVP so far.”
- M/F Hany Mukhtar: 7.64
- M/F Abu Danladi: 7.59
- “Fantastic goal … Game fitness is getting better”
- He might not have the footwork of Leal, but he always feels more likely to actually produce
- M/F Alex Muyl: 6.22
- “Solid outing. Passing is getting better. Still working on game fitness”
- He’s really good defensively but has to be more involved in the offense.
- F Dominique Badji: 8.22 Community comment:
- “1assist and 1 goal 👏⚽️👏 Lots of heart and grit “
- Hopefully his goal is what gets him to finally produce. If not, Cadiz time.”
- M Taylor Washington (62′ sub): 7.04 Community comment:
- “Outstanding defensive effort. Lots of grit and energy. Paired with Lovitz …nothing came down the right side “
- “Better option to see out a game than needing any offense from him”
- M/F Alan Winn (62′ sub): 7.00 ( this was a perfectly unanimous 7, which is incredible. No votes for any other number)
- F Daniel Ríos (75′ sub): 6.82 Community comment:
- “Tough player who works hard for the team …best hold up player”
- “Even though Badji scored, it still feels like Ríos should be the starter and Badji should be the closer.”
- M Derrick Jones (75′ sub): 6.43
- M Tah Brian Anunga (90’+1 sub): 6.39
- Coach Gary Smith: 8.22
- Overall team rating: 8.31
McCarty and head coach Gary Smith earned spots on the MLS team of the week, with McCarty coming second in POTW voting.
Drake Hills game story from The Tennessean. NSC official site recap. League website recap, looking at the Miles Robinson discussion, and Steve Zakuani’s thoughts (for the uninitiated, Zakuani is an all-time injury “what-if” for the US Men’s National Team). Nashville Scene column. Field-Level Media story. Nashville Post game story. Game story from Sportblogs. The Fresno Bee wins AP syndication roulette this week. Broadway recap and player ratings. Post-match reaction, recap, and thoughts from Dirty South Soccer. Hany Mukhtar gets some love from back in Denmark. Lovitz shoutout in Stars and Stripes FC. NSC is up to 17th in ESPN’s power rankings.