Nashville SC

The Wrap: The sweet taste of victory

Welcome to The Wrap! There’s plenty written about each Nashville SC game, and I want to make sure you don’t miss any of it. The Boys in Gold finally emerged victorious after four cracks at it. Catch up on the win over New England Revolution here.

Local content

Game story:

Sapong’s 25th-minute goal was the culmination of a solid play from Lovitz, who picked out Walker Zimmerman at the back post and fired away from long range. The cross found the head of the centerback (who remained upfield after a set-piece opportunity), and he sent it back across the face of goal. Sapong was there to slide it home – and if he hadn’t been, fellow striker Dominique Badji may well have been able to finish it himself.

May 8

The game column with quotes from the postgame press conference:

That meant first starts of the season for DC-area natives Dominique Badji and CJ Sapong. It was the latter who got the team going.

“When you see that ball go over your head, first inclination is just to get towards the goal,” Sapong said. “I didn’t even know Walker [Zimmerman] was over there, until I turned around. Once I saw him, I knew, ‘OK, there’s a high probability, high chance the ball is coming back across the face of the goal.’

“Once it did, obviously it’s ‘just get a touch on it.’ I saw Dom next to me as well, so I feel like even if I didn’t get there, he would get there.”

May 10

The Graphical looked at how Nashville played a style of game that didn’t feel like the empty-bucket that can doom a 4-4-2:

By contrast, NSC spent 71 minutes with a lead, and 19 of those with a two-goal lead against New England Revolution. When you aren’t desperate for a goal, there’s less need to bang in a high volume of passes that get the ball into dangerous areas (even if each of those passes has a very low probability of turning into a goal – the value is in the large number of trials you get, even if each trial is low-probability on its own).

May 11

The film room looked at Nashville’s game-sealing goal, which cam about courtesy of a conscious decision to play a “dump and press” style:

Then, it’s about poor spacing from New England, and a ton of individual effort and awareness from Nashville. The angle from the southern end of the pressbox gives a pretty good view of what happens.

Washington and McCarty force things to get hectic quickly for New England, and some token pressure from Cádiz is enough to give Polster the “oh shit” feeling and get rid of the ball immediately. 

May 13

And finally, the voting post, and your results for the Community ratings:

Don’t forget you can type comments in the box below the numerical votes each week!

  • Man of the Match GK Joe Willis: 8.67 Community comments:
    • Amazing save in first 10 and last 10. Better distribution today
    • Amazing …played out of his shoes
  • D Walker Zimmerman: 8.04
  • D Dave Romney: 7.43
  • D Walker Zimmerman: 6.70 Community comments:
    • That “classic Zim moment” probably should have cost us the game. Thanks VAR!
    • Solid game …exception was position on the yellow card…Romney saved him
  • D Dan Lovitz: 7.13 Community comments:
    • Solid performance
    • Some cringe-worthy set pieces.
  • D Alistair Johnston: 6.70 Community comment:
    • Improvements from previous week. Great clearance on a corner.
  • M Alex Muyl: 8.14 Community comments:
    • Fantastic goal in addition to tons of donkey work with an without the ball
    • “Outstanding shift on both sides of the ball (again) what he does you can’t teach”
    • Best game from Muyl this year, for more than the goal. Adapted well to changes in formation and necessary coverage.
  • M Dax McCarty: 7.82 Community comments:
    • Captain My Captain …Guts and Glue
    • Better coverage and angles.
    • McCarty gets an eight (8) he was masterful in the middle of the pitch
  • M Aníbal Godoy: 7.73 Community comments:
    • Heart and Soul effort in the middle
    • Dumb foul in added time, but solid performance otherwise.
    • Monster in the MF again
  • M Randall Leal: 7.40 Community comments:
    • Maintained pressure and created opportunities. Leal continues to prove offensively explosive and defensively disruptive.
  • F CJ Sapong: 8.15 Community comments:
    • Should be our starting striker rn
    • Outstanding effort and goal
    • “A Man amongst Men on Saturday. brings high IQ, energy/effort for the team”
    • Sapong pursues opportunities and connects effectively as a true striker. I’m hopeful we see more from the Sapong-Badji duo.
  • F Dominique Badji: 7.08 Community comments:
    • Bright and energetic …vey physical
    • Badji’s crushing it. All-around great performance from him.
    • Lots of energy and effort
    • Badji has the speed, defensive press, and ability to get open that we aren’t consistently seeing with other forwards. His communication with Sapong is exciting too and brings a powerful dynamic as a multi-threat winger who can pursue imperfect crosses. Loving their combined SOGs.
  • F Jhonder Cádiz (64′ sub): 5.92 Community comments:
    • Missed some major opportunities.
    • Cádiz seemed out of his element and missed some key passes/shots.
  • M Taylor Washington (72′ sub): 6.41 Community comments:
    • “Lots of energy and defensive pressure at Left Wing and Left Back for Lovitz
    • “Washington is looking great.
    • Showing that he belongs in the MLS.
  • D Jalil Anibaba (82′ sub): 6.00
  • M Matt LaGrassa (83′ sub): 6.14
  • Head coach Gary Smith: 8.45 Community comments:
    • Sapong start with Badji made us much more cohesive defensively than when Cadiz starts up top alone.
    • I’ll get into whatever formation he wants. 3 points!
    • He out-coached the best coach in American soccer history both pre-game and in-game.
  • Overall Team Rating: 8.00 Community comment:

Fair marks all around. Don’t forget you can participate in the Community Rankings each week by voting in the post that goes up after the game.

Walker Zimmerman and Alex Muyl both made the MLS Team of the Week. Wes and I sat down with CJ Sapong to talk not just about Saturday’s goal (though we certainly did that!), but much more beyond the field.


The game center always has some useful stuff post-game, along with the recap. NSC story. Drake Hills game story in the Tennessean. Futbol en la Piel game story. WKRN gamer. Nashville Post story. Main Street Nashville gamer. Field Level Media on the game. The Scene‘s Steve Cavendish with an overview of the first four games. Broadway game story.

NSC climbs to No. 12 in the ESPN Power Rankings, and to No. 11 to

Should the Revs have had a penalty? Trifecta Sports game story from the New England side. Rev’s winning streak snapped, from the Boston Globe. Local news story from the Northeast.

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