There’s little consolation in the matter, but the majority of the time, it take an absolute world-class goal to beat Nashville SC. Sporting Kansas City got one from Erik Hurtado to defend Childrens Mercy Park in a 2-1 victory Sunday evening.
Nashville SC struck first against one of the Western Conference’s top teams, with Walker Zimmerman heading home a corner kick from Randall Leal in the 15th minute. The teams would trade blows throughout the first frame – with Nashville seeming to have the slightly better of the opportunities – but entering the half, that was the only tally separating the sides.
Things fell apart for the Boys in Gold eight minutes into the second half, though. An impressive run from winger Johnny Russell saw him draw Nashville’s defense out of position, and he laid off for a doorstep tap-in from compatriot Gerso Fernandes to level the score. Things went from bad to worse just a minute later, when a rough tackle from Nashville right back Alistair Johnston drew his second yellow of the game (after being questionably carded in the first half, he got his money’s worth on the second). Down to 10 men, Gary Smith rearranged his personnel – making all five subs, including an MLS debut for rookie Jack Maher – but ultimately it amounted to plugging holes in the ship without enough fingers to fill all the gaps.
That doesn’t take away from the impressive nature of Hurtado’s game-winner. A looping deep cross from left back Amadou Dia found the striker on the back shoulder of Nashville centerback Dave Romney. Rather than give Romney a chance to recover his positioning, Hurtado swung through, and found far-side netting.
Game. Set. Match.
With the loss, Nashville slips out of the Eastern Conference playoff positions (though if the season were to end today, the points-per-game, rather than totals, would make up the table, and NSC would slip by Atlanta United). They’ll have a chance to climb back into those positions Wednesday, with a trip to Houston to take on the Dynamo. The teams last met just Sept. 26, with Houston finding a stoppage-time equalizer.
Taking into account some of the injured egos of tonight’s game, as well, revenge could be in order for the Boys in Gold.
- 12′ NSH Yellow card – 12 Alistair Johnston (foul)
- 15′ NSH GOAL – 25 Walker Zimmerman (headed), assisted by 8 Randall Leal (right-footed corner kick)
- 38′ NSH Yellow card – 2 Dan Lovitz (foul)
- 45’+2 Half time
- 49′ SKC Substitution – On 19 Erik Hurtado, off 11 Khiry Shelton (injury)
- 52′ SKC Yellow card – 6 Ilie Sanchez (foul)
- 53′ SKC GOAL – 12 Gerso Fernandes (left foot), assisted by 7 Johnny Russell (square pass across face of goal)
- 54′ NSH RED CARD – 12 Alistair Johnston (second yellow, foul)
- 60′ NSH Substitutions:
- On 23 Taylor Washington, off 7 Abu Danladi
- On 3 Jalil Anibaba, off 25 Walker Zimmerman
- 65′ SKC Substitution – On 15 Roger Espinoza, off 27 Gianluca Busio
- 76′ NSH Yellow card – 21 Derrick Jones (foul)
- 76′ NSH Substitutions:
- On 18 Jack Maher, off 21 Derrick Jones
- On 22 Matt LaGrassa, off 27 Tah Brian Anunga
- 79′ SKC GOAL – 19 Erik Hurtado (right footed volley), assisted by 13 Amadou Dia (left-footed cross)
- 81′ SKC Substitutions
- On 20 Daniel Salloi, off 12 Gerso Fernandes
- On 36 Luis Martins, off 13 Amadou Dia
- 90’+4 Full time
Walker Zimmerman photo courtesy Major League Soccer