Nashville SC

The triple wrap supreme: Three games, five points

Welcome to The Wrap, with a rundown of content from recent Nashville SC games. While I’d typically like to have a bit more from NSC’s September run, it’s starting to get a bit stale, yeah? In the interest of moving along, let’s get into the games.

Columbus Crew 2-0 Nashville SC: Local content

Game story:

Columbus didn’t generate a plethora of golden opportunities, but made its chances count. Each of the team’s shots on goal – a left-footed curler from the top of the box on the break out of Pedro Santos (after a turnover by Nashville centerback Walker Zimmerman), and a back-heeled dribbler from striker Gyasi Zardes in stoppage time – each found twine in its own way, and the league-leading Crew extended its advantage in the league table, while Nashville SC treads water on the cusp of playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

Sept. 19, 2020

The game column with postgame quotes from Gary Smith and Aníbal Godoy:

The Columbus striker managed to swipe the ball away, and find Santos in a transition moment at the top of Nashville’s penalty area.

His left-footed strike after two touches to find space was a sweet one, over sliding block attempts from Godoy and Zimmerman, and comfortably past the outstretched hands of keeper Joe Willis.

“The clarity of that opportunity… it was still a little bit to do, and it was a wonderful finish by Santos, take nothing away form him there,” said Smith. “But I think we all know that in 99% of occasions, Walker finds a pass forward, he drops it into a nice area, he doesn’t get caught on the ball and the opportunity just moves on. It’s something that he’s obviously very, very disappointed about, and so’s the group given how well we acquitted ourselves.”

Sept. 21, 2020

The Graphical looked at how Nashville’s strength in the possession game wasn’t enough to generate goals:

Secondly, an old adage that we became very accustomed to in the USL days (mostly for the negative in 2018, and mostly for the positive in 2019) is that possession means very little if you don’t do something with it. This follows downstream from the above. It… was an issue for Nashville!

Every successful entry into Columbus’s penalty area came from a cross or a long pass. Zone 14 (that dangerous spot just outside the box from which attacks are most dangerous) is basically blank.

Sept. 30, 2020

The film room looked at how Columbus’s opening goal came about:

Nashville is pulling a player out of its attacking midfield three (in this case, 10 Hany Mukhtar), and dropping him very deep – to both get a player with more dangerous ball skills on the rock, as well as stretch the Columbus lines out of their shape. He’s essentially replaced in the attacking three by Dax McCarty.

That should put Dominique Badji one-on-one with a CB, which is a situation you really like to have! However, Nashville can’t find an open man and a passing lane (credit the organization of Columbus’s defense, just as Nashville’s often deserves credit for the same), so they knock it around the back a bit more, and it leads to The Bad thing.

Oct. 2, 2020

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: 8.03 Community comments:
    • “Outstanding hustle save vs Diaz
    • “My Captain My Captain “
    • “He can’t do it all and has probably lost a step. But nobody is more consistent and positive week to week
  • GK Joe Willis: 7.10 Community comment:
    • “Steady …really soft hands Probably would have been a good Tight End”
  • D Dave Romney: 7.35 Community comment:
    • “Continues to play steady”
  • D Dan Lovitz: 6.98
    • “Solid performance”
    • “Not sure he deserved a yellow card “
    • “Boring in a good way.”
  • D Alistair Johnston: 6.22 Community comments:
    • “Almost average today”
    • “Needs to get quicker “
  • D Walker Zimmerman: 5.60 Community comments:
    • “Good overall game. One ugly mistake that led to the Columbus Crew 1st goal “
    • The good is very good. But the bad is so, so bad.”
  • M Aníbal Godoy: 7.82 Community comment:
  • M/F Hany Mukhtar: 7.02
    • “Slowly starting to make plays at the #10 …has quality “
    • “He has played OK, but needs to take more ownership of the middle.”
  • M/F Alex Muyl: 6.67 Community comments:
    • “Alex gives grit and guts: He’s a fighter. Gritty performance”
    • “Technically average”
    • Provides a lot defensively, but defense isn’t what this team lacks.”
  • M/F Alan Winn: 5.30
    • “Seemed lost…on offense and defense. Maybe seven (7) giveaways
    • Need less hype more productivity. Very quiet outing …disappeared too often”
    • “tbh can see why he doesn’t play as much”
  • F Dominique Badji: 6.12 Community comments:
    • Lots of hustle ..decision making has to get better ….sometimes takes to many dribbles
    • “Lots of hustle and energy Needs to release passes quicker”
    • “score pls”
  • F Daniel Ríos (63′ sub): 6.00
  • M Taylor Washington (78′ sub): 7.29 Community comments:
    • “Lots of energy …gave the team a big lift. playmaking skills were on display
    • “Obsessed with crossing. At least they’re looking better.”
  • M Derrick Jones (78′ sub): 6.03
  • Coach Gary Smith: 6.71
  • Overall team rating: 6.93 Community comments:
    • “Defensively the team was solid”
    • “This team continues to grind for 90+ min. Except for approximately 5 plays by Columbus Crew was Nashville SC exposed”
    • “Not a bad performance, but ‘not a bad performance, despite the result’ is a trend.”


NSC story from the official site. AP story. What was learned on the Crew side from Massive Report. That site also breaks down the game-sealing Zardes goal. Game story in the Columbus Dispatch. Three takeaways from Sportsblog. Nashville Post story. Game story from Broadway. The homies from Futbol en la Piel on the game.

Nashville SC 1-0 DC United: Local content

Game story:

Despite having a man advantage for the entire second half, the Boys in Gold could create chances, but not that moment of magic.

Striker Daniel Ríos changed that in the 70th minute. The Mexican rose to get his head to a cross, and the resulting ball made its way past DC keeper Bill Hamid, giving the hosts a 1-0 victory.

Sept. 23, 2020

The game column with postgame quotes from Gary Smith, Daniel Ríos, and Taylor Washington:

“It was a corner and Dave Romney win the ball and flicked it right,” Ríos said. “It was a matter of ‘be ready’ and to finish that ball, because I thought it was coming. It was good ball. It was a good goal and good confidence for the team. Great three points, we are looking to scale in those standings.”

That final piece – particularly should goal-scoring become a habit for Nashville SC – could be the next evolution in this squad. They started the year defensively sound but unable to avoid one or two big mistakes (arguably, they’re still making mistakes, though less frequently and typically with less catastrophic results). They added a possession element after the restart of play in August. Now, they’re able to control games and even create chances on a regular basis. The difference has to become both taking and finishing those opportunities.

Sept. 24, 2020

The Graphical looked at how Nashville reverts to crossing a lot against a bunkered D:

Even with an over-reliance on crossing, Nashville SC – thanks in part to that possession dominance outlined in the top section – was able to create a fair amount of danger.

Certainly the shots from well outside the box – particularly those that get blocked before they even reach the penalty area – can get a little tedious. While I maintain that those are valuable as long as they provide some sort of threat on the opponent’s goal, a re-adjustment of priorities may be due for the Boys in Gold here.

Sept. 30, 2020

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 Aníbal Godoy: 8.29 Community comments:
    • “Outstanding ….warrior beast in MF.”
    • “Personifies hard work, intelligence, technical skill and ‘Old School Grit.’ Team MVP to this point “
  • GK Joe Willis: 7.57
  • D Dave Romney: 7.28 Community comments:
    • “Outstanding game”
    • “Work horse defender and a nice left foot …talented lumberjack”
  • D Alistair Johnston 7:16: Community comments:
    • “Solid outing. Considering DC United targeted him most of the night. Alistar did a nice job
    • “Fell asleep and lost his mark on the Kamara header on goal
    • “He has the offensive skill. We need him to be sharper.
  • D Walker Zimmerman: 7.13 Community comments:
    • “Outstanding game”
    • “Talented lumberjack at CB”
  • D Taylor Washington: 7.01 Community comments:
    • “Very strong 1st game in MLS. Positioning was very good, he played with poise and purpose. Made a 70 yard recovery run in the 2nd half vs Greasel “
    • “1st MLS start, lock down defending, played with poise…very good crosses into the box , clean passing. “
    • “Julian Gressel was quiet all night”
    • “Better-than expected defensively. Lovitz is very missed on offense, though.”
  • M Dax McCarty: 7.82
  • M/F Derrick Jones: 7.70 Community comment:
    • Jones put in a wonderful shift ..played very well
    • “Best game so far in Nashville (MLS and USL Championship) “
  • M/F Alex Muyl: 7.44 Community comments:
    • “Another gritty performance. 1st half he and Washington locked down the DC United right flank “
    • “Plays with grit and determination. Willing defender on the wing. Passing is getting better “
  • M/F Dominique Badji: 5.85
  • F Daniel Ríos: 7.73
    • “Outstanding game in both sides of the ball. Great hold up play. Did a lot of little things all night. His 1st MLS goal was all guts and grit “
    • “Scored his 1st MLS goal and played hard all night …very intelligent. Continues to do many of the little things that don’t show on the stat sheet”
  • M Alan Winn (21′ sub): 6.58 Community comments:
    • “Getting better. Nice shot on goal. Strong 45 yard recovery run on defense in a DCU counter “
    • “Good shift. Just needs to become more consistent with his play and decision making ….”
  • M/F Randall Leal (62′ sub): 6.43
  • D Jalil Anibaba (83′ sub): 5.83
  • Coach Gary Smith: 7.15
  • Overall team rating: 7.29 Community comments:
    • “Strong team performance. 1st half was bright with a lot of quality on both sides of the ball “
    • “Outstanding team win. Hard working team effort on both sides of the ball. Daniel Rios goal was brilliant “


NSC official site game recap and column on team depth. Game story, Photo gallery, and column from The Tennessean. Broadway game story and photo gallery. DC coach Ben Olsen was extremely happy with his team’s performance. AP story. MLS site recap. Three takeaways.

Nashville SC 1-1 Houston Dynamo: Local content

Game story:

NASHVILLE – Through one half of play, Nashville SC had no choice but to feel very unlucky. A 22nd-minute penlaty was signaled after midfielder Hany Mukhtar was taken down on the fast break before center official Rubiel Vazquez checked with his linesman and adjudged the German offside. Striker Daniel Ríos found the back of the net on a break of his own, before he too was robbed by the linesman’s flag.

Ríos would get his revenge in the second half, but Houston would equalize late-on to split the points.

Sept. 26, 2020

The game column with postgame quotes from Gary Smith and Walker Zimmerman:

That made it all the more disappointing that not one, but two goal-scoring opportunities – a penalty earned by Randall Leal, and Ríos actually putting the ball past Houston keeper Marko Marić and into the net – were ruled out by offside calls in the first half. Neither went to a full video review, despite both being as close as can be.

“I’ve only seen the camera angle on the jumbo screen out in the field, and I’ve got to say: when the ball’s played, we’re talking about extremely fine lines,” Smith said. “I can only assume that whoever’s in the VAR position has got a better angle and has made the right choice. I mean, I’m bitterly disappointed having seen it on the jumbo screen: we’re talking about such a fine line.”

Sept. 28, 2020

The Graphical gave a stark reminder of Nashville’s limp to the finish:

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 Derrick Jones (HT sub): 8.23 Community comments:
    • “Another strong showing. Smart with a lot of grit “
    • “Bro, that juggle.”
  • GK Joe Willis: 6.67 Community comment:
    • “Crucial mistake from a guy who doesn’t make many of them.”
  • D Dave Romney: 7.79
  • D Jalil Anibaba: 7.23 Community comment:
  • D Dan Lovitz: 6.98
    • “Solid game”
    • “Unfortunate to not box out (ball watching) the Houston Dynamo goal “
  • D Walker Zimmerman: 6.84
  • M Dax McCarty: 7.03
  • M Tah Brian Anunga: 6.87 Community comment:
    • “Good defender…passing is fair and conservative”
    • “His grit and hard work are a 10.0”
  • M/F Alex Muyl: 7.05 Community comments:
    • “Put in a wonderful shift
    • Just wants to make plays for the team …no hype here “
  • M/F Hany Mukhtar: 6.77
  • M/F Randall Leal: 6.12
  • F Daniel Ríos: 8.00 Community comment:
    • “Great goal …Daniels work off the ball is first rate …very intelligent”
  • M Aníbal Godoy (59′ sub): 7.02
  • D Alistair Johnston (59′ sub): 6.24
  • M/F Alan Winn (68′ sub): 5.98 Community comments:
    • “3 good plays ….3 bad plays”
    • “Decision making is average. His upside is still solid “
  • M Taylor Washington (76′ sub): 7.29 Community comments:
    • “Lots of energy …gave the team a big lift. playmaking skills were on display
    • “Obsessed with crossing. At least they’re looking better.”
  • Coach Gary Smith: 6.84
  • Overall team rating: 6.90


Game story from The Tennessean, and one from Broadway, along with their player ratings. Official site match recap. AP story. MLS match recap. Matt Doyle on NSC’s goal.

Hey, this took ages to put together! Boys in Not Gold delayed until tomorrow while I whip up a Minnesota preview.


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