Nashville SC entered Saturday evening’s game against Real Salt Lake riding a mini wave of momentum after beating New England Revolution a week ago. Gary Smith didn’t want to rock the boat, and went with the same recipe for the team’s first roadtrip. A 4-4-2 formation and an unchanged starting lineup didn’t see a second consecutive win, but in a difficult place to play, the Boys in Gold managed to hold on for a scoreless draw.
It was a quiet offensive game for both teams, with many of the best chances in the first half generated from set pieces. Things opened up a bit more in the second half, with a 53rd-minute chance from Nashville striker CJ Sapong blocked at the top of the six-yard boc by RSL defender Erik Holt. That sent a message that tere was a little more offense in the game, and what little there was came from the squad wearing is Vibe II blue jerseys for the first time this season.
The visitors found the first shot on-target – for either team – in the 69th minute, when a set piece was cleared and eventually fell to winger Randall Leal at the top of the box. The Costa Rican fired, drawing a sprawled save out of Salt Lake keeper David Ochoa. 10 minutes later, striker CJ Sapong had what would turn out to be the best chance of the game, firing a header on the end of a Dan Lovitz cross. Once again, Ochoa’s save wasn’t clean, but he did what was necessary to keep the ball out of his net.
Nashville saw the return of attacking midfielder Hany Mukhtar, who missed last weekend’s game against New England with a tight hamstring. The German got a 36-minute runout to return to form, but was unable to pull the strings in a way that led to his team breaking the deadlock.
While RSL had some dangerous looks at the goal, the hosts ultimately didn’t test keeper Joe Willis with a single shot on-frame. For a road game, Nashville held a comfortable amount of possession (over 44%) and was well-ahead in expected goals until a stoppage-time header from Erik Holt – skied over the crossbar – gave the hosts the edge in that department.
Nashville stands 1-0-4 with the draw, and will try to get back on the winning side of the ledger with a return home to Nissan Stadium next weekend. The Boys in Gold host expansion club Austin FC at 8 p.m. CDT Sunday evening. Austin is 2-3-0 on the young season, and Nashville will want to add another loss to that ledger.
- 27′ RSL Yellow card – 15 Justen Glad (foul)
- 45’+1 Half time
- 50′ NSH Yellow card – 19 Alex Muyl (foul)
- 57′ NSH Substitution – On 10 Hany Mukhtar, off 9 Dominique Badji
- 66′ NSH Substitutions:
- On 99 Jhonder Cádiz, off 17 CJ Sapong
- On 26 Luke Haakenson, off 19 Alex Muyl
- 75′ RSL Substitution – On 3 Ashtone Morgan, off 4 Donny Toia
- 82′ NSH Substitutions:
- On 22 Matt LaGrassa, off 6 Dax McCarty
- On 23 Taylor Washington, off 8 Randall Leal
- 82′ RSL Substitutions:
- On 16 Maikel Chang, off 20 Anderson Julio
- On 12 Douglas Martinez, off 9 Justin Meram
- On 26 Noah Powder, off 2 Andrew Brody
- 90’+3 Full time