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. NSC hit the road for the first time in 2021, and came away with a draw on the road.
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.May 15
Better still, Nashville recognized that a cohesive offensive performance may not be in the cards, with Smith running out a defense-first 4-4-2 for the second game in a row. NSC buckled down and held RSL without a single shot on goal in the contest – more than just a consolation prize for a game in which NSC finished with 12 total shots and only three on the frame.
“We sat a little deeper: we got in kind of two blocks of four and the two guys up front, and tried to just keep them in front of us,” explained goalkeeper Joe Willis. “Tried to be hard to break down. Tried to be compact and not let any little slipped balls in through the middle, tried to force them wide and make crosses. I think we did a really good job of that today.”May 17
The Graphical looked at Nashville’s production in comparison to the win against New England. The margin was… actually better?
There’s really not a whole lot of difference in the offense generated over the past two games:
|Game||Expected Goals for||Expected Goals against|
Nashville had a 0.41 xG margin in one of those games, and a 0.19 margin in the other… and won Game B by two goals while being unable to find a winner (despite the greater margin) in the most recent outing.
So what does that mean?May 19
The film room looked at Nashville’s best chance of the game, and how it had a chance to be quite a bit more dangerous:
However, it does seem like Johnston’s decision-making after opening space for himself left something to be desired. He has plenty of opportunity to take at least one more touch here, and bang a ground pass into a forest of teammates. Given the options to get onto the end of the cross, it would have made even more sense than just the typical “a pass from a more dangerous area to the penalty spot is better than a cross” considerations.May 20
A new – hopefully regular* – feature, I pinged friend-of-the-blog Clay Trainum of Pharma Soccer and the Nashville Soccer Archive to post a bit of a road diary:
Traveling into enemy territory can be unpredictable at times, and there’s usually a bit of feeling out before folks get fully acquainted. Typically, everything goes down quite well, but it’s not necessarily always a joyous occasion. That being said, many Utahns were more than happy to welcome us into their tailgates and their stadium. The city is not the easiest place to travel to, and one gets the sense that they understand that. There were many surprised reactions that so many of us made the flight from Nashville. Our reception was nothing short of exceptional.
Many of us wish the quality of the match could have been.May 19
* Fan experience posts can’t become a regular feature without people interested in sharing their travel experiences. If you’re heading to Atlanta next weekend and interested in talking about your experience, shoot me an e-mail or drop me a DM on Twitter and we’ll chat about it.
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 M Dax McCarty: 7.50 (actually a precise tie with Joe Willis, but it’s my blog so I get to cast the tiebreaking vote)
- GK Joe Willis: 7.50
- D Dave Romney: 7.46 Community comment:
- “Once again solid/steady”
- D Walker Zimmerman: 7.03
- D Dan Lovitz: 6.03 Community comments:
- “Not typical …below average service
- “In the first 17+ minutes Lovitz and Leal were beat with pace by the RSL Winger and RB “
- D Alistair Johnston: 5.98 Community comment:
- “Had trouble with the RSL players pace”
- “Continues to be almost average at making crosses and passes at speed “
- M Aníbal Godoy: 7.00 Community comments:
- M Randall Leal: 6.88 Community comments:
- “Average game…defensively was out of position and beat on speed/pace by RSL back Brody on occasion
- “Seems more effective on the right “
- M Alex Muyl: 6.13
- F CJ Sapong: 7.30 Community comments:
- Grit, Hard work and High soccer IQ
- F Dominique Badji: 6.39
- M Hany Mukhtar (57′ sub): 5.31 Community comment:
- Seemed lost and couldn’t find the game
- F Jhonder Cádiz (66′ sub): 6.66 (🤘)
- M Luke Haakenson (66′ sub): 5.49
- M Matt LaGrassa (82′ sub): 6.00
- M Taylor Washington (82′ sub): 7.22
- Head coach Gary Smith: 6.52
- Overall Team Rating: 7.10 Community comment:
- RSL press was effective
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.
We discussed the game on the latest edition of the pod (also: talked to US Soccer legend Alexi Lalas).
The MLSSoccer.com game center always has some useful stuff post-game, along with the recap. AP brief. What we learned, from Michael Gallagher in the Nashville Post. Game story from Drake Hills. Ticos en MLS update. No goles de Randall Leal :(. Broadway gamer. Everything’s Coming Up Golden game story. WSMV covers the game.