Wins are all alike. Losses are all alike. Every draw is splitting points in its own way. After a disappointing draw against Houston Dynamo last weekend, Nashville SC came away with a more uplifting version of same this evening.
The Boys in Gold played a more positive, progressive gameplan than perhaps anyone expected (at least for about a half), but the midfield and forward lines couldn’t connect enough passes to find the back of the net – or even a good look at it, in all reality – against the New England Revolution Saturday evening. Meanwhile, the Revs pushed numbers forward and created a number of chances, but didn’t have much more luck finding the back of the net.
Joe Willis’s five saves were the difference as Nashville escaped metro Boston with a 0-0 draw and a point in the standings. After a late Dynamo equalizer seven days ago stole a win from NSC, holding on for a draw in this one was far from a letdown.
Gary Smith’s side was without any healthy strikers, and instead went with a rotating platoon of wingers and midfielders to lead the line. Derrick Jones and Matt LaGrassa – in his first MLS start (along with Jones and fellow midfielder Tah Brian Anunga, he was a player in second-division USL at this time last year) – mixed with typical winger/attacking mids Randall Leal and Hany Mukhtar to provide some semblance of forward play. That amounted to a grand total of one shot on goal (a Leal try from distance late in the contest), and the best opportunity coming from a near own-goal by New England on a Nashville set piece. A free kick was deflected to Revs keeper Matt Turner, and he had trouble corralling it, nearly putting the ball in his own net with his right hand before bailing himself out with the left.
New England, meanwhile, consistently peppered Willis’s net, putting five shots on target (including a pair of enticing attempts by winger Tajon Buchanan), and creating many other moments of danger that didn’t quite force the Nashville keeper into action.
In the end, being nearly doubled-up in possession and suffering nearly six times as many shot attempts as they were able to generate… doesn’t matter for Nashville. Both teams scored the same number of goals, and share the points in the standings. With the draw, Nashville is down to No. 10 in the MLS Eastern Conference standings (though if the season were to end today, they’d be eighth on the basis of having played fewer games than the two teams that also have 17 points). However, they have the chance to climb back up with a Tuesday contest against Minnesota United, back home in Nissan Stadium.
In an injury- and coronavirus-affected expansion season, there’s little to be disappointed about with the play so far.
- 45’+1 Half time
- 63′ NE Substitutions:
- On 70 Cristian Penilla, off 10 Teal Bunbury
- On 9 Adam Buksa, off 42 Lee Nguyen
- 75′ NSH Substitution – On 3 Jalil Anibaba, off 10 Hany Mukhtar
- 81′ NSH Yellow card – 3 Jalil Anibaba (foul)
- 83′ NE Substitution – On 14 Diego Fagundez, off 15 Brandon Bye
- 85′ NSH Substitution – On 19 Alan Winn, off 21 Derrick Jones
- 89′ NSH Substitution – On 29 Alex Muyl, off 8 Randall Leal
- 90’+4 Full time
Brian Anunga photo courtesy Major League Soccer