NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After 50 shots through two games, Nashville SC managed just nine and allowed Inter Miami five, and neither team could break the deadlock in a 0-0 draw before 13,855 fans at Nissan Stadium.
Nashville’s previous season-low for shots was 18, a week ago against Club de Foot Montreal, and today, the teams didn’t even combine for that many. Joe Willis made just two saves – with the first albeit very impressive, in just the seventh minute – in keeping a clean sheet and earning Man of the Match honors. Nashville only put three of its shots on-target in a day that struck a far different tone than NSC’s early draws against Montreal and FC Cincinnati, which were loaded with offense.
That said, the Boys in Gold will certainly be happy to keep a clean sheet for the first time in 2021, after Willis had a league-leading nine shutouts a year ago.
Gary Smith has talked about finding the right balance between attack and defense in these early stages of the season, particularly when only two of Nashville’s planned six preseason games actually ended up coming to fruition (including one canceled against this very IMCF side). Today, the pendulum may have swung too far toward the defense, with Nashville showing a few moments of brightness in attack, but too willing to lump in crosses from the right wing against an Inter Miami team that also earned its first clean sheet of the year.
There was the late excitement of a top offseason signing, Uruguayan winger Rodrigo Piñeiro, making his club debut, but arriving on the field in second-half stoppage time, Piñeiro only had one touch of the ball. The player he replaced, Randall Leal, led the team with three shots on target.
With the draw, Nashville has officially been eliminated from the possibility of finishing as one of the top eight American MLS teams after three games, meaning if the 2021 US Open Cup takes place this Fall (it was indefinitely postponed from a May start), the Boys in Gold will not take part.
Nashville will now try to combine its stout defense – now that it’s returned to form – with the high-flying offense shown in the first two games. The next opportunity to do that is the final game of NSC’s four-game homestand to open the season, with NSC welcoming New England Revolution to Nissan Stadium next Saturday.
- 24′ NSH Yellow card – 20 Aníbal Godoy (not retreating)
- 45’+1 Half time
- HT MIA Substitution – On 20 Brek Shea, off 33 Joevin Jones
- 61′ NSH Substitution – On 17 CJ Sapong, off 99 Jhonder Cádiz
- 65′ MIA Yellow card – 26 Gregore (foul)
- 67′ MIA Substitutions:
- On 28 Edison Azcona, off 14 Jay Chapman
- On 19 Robbie Robinson, off 10 Rodolfo Pizarro
- 70′ NSH Yellow card – 25 Walker Zimmerman (foul)
- 76′ NSH Substitutions:
- On 9 Dominique Badji, off 10 Hany Mukhtar
- On 10 Handwalla Bwana, off 19 Alex Muyl
- 79′ MIA Substitution – On 16 Josh Penn, off 19 Robbie Robinson (injury)
- 90’+2 NSH Substitution – On 11 Rodrigo Piñeiro, off 8 Randall Leal
- 90’+5 FT