Nashville SC

The Wrap: Rivalry renewed

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. Nashville fired another salvo in a rivalry against Atlanta United to earn a comeback point.

Local content

Game story:

It was a real “look like FC Cincinnati, play like FC Cincinnati” first 55 minutes for the Boys in Gold Blue and Orange. In the league-special Parley jerseys – Nashville’s a bright blue with orange as Atlanta wore white with light blue accents – Nashville SC didn’t look like itself aesthetically, and didn’t play like itself between the white lines, either. Of course, a comparison to FCC is harsh for any Major League Soccer team, particularly in front of 40,748 fans in Atlanta United’s first full-capacity game of the year. It’s even more harsh when this NSC team salvaged a 2-2 draw from the proceedings.

May 29

The game column with quotes from the postgame press conference:

Atlanta United may not be the juggernaut it was in 2018 and 2019. But Mercedes Benz Stadium is a difficult place for opponents to find results, and the Five Stripes had never given up a two-goal lead to draw or lose a game, no matter where the team was playing.

“It’s tough to see where two goals were going to come from, up until the point that Hany scored,” said Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith. “You keep hoping, and you try to urge the players on.”

It was the club’s first Designated Player scoring not just once, but twice after the 80th minute to salvage a draw for Nashville SC. 

May 31

The Graphical was extraordinarily timely, publishing in the immediate aftermath of the game almost two weeks later than usual. However, the look into gamestates is but one really important portion of it as we tell the overall story of Nashville SC:

As you can see, the “racking up xG because they’re trailing a lot” argument gets its first hole poked: the majority of NSC’s xG differential is actually accounted for when the game is tied, and the team is more productive with a one-goal lead than trailing by one or two goals. Nashville has been productive at every gamestate except leading by two.

June 14

Plenty more angles for that one, I’d strongly encourage you to check it out.

The Film Room was much more immediate, and looked at how Atlanta’s tactical setup and individual brilliance managed to beat a Nashville plan that didn’t quite work out early in the match.

The Boys in Gold know Atlanta likes to possess, so they’d planned to sit back a bit and let the opponent pass around a bit. Alas, when Atlanta can break lines with CB passing, it doesn’t work out!

“They’re a team that possess the ball very, very well,” Gary Smith said. “We were comfortable if they kept the ball in front of us, but certainly didn’t want them to penetrate too often.

“Robinson’s distribution in the first half was very good: it caused us a lot of problems, and the goal came from there. My concern was that I felt as though we might have dropped slightly quicker. It was a little bit too easy for the ball to be dropped in behind our backline.”

June 5

Not just one but two guest posts breaking down the experience in Atlanta. The first also includes a trip to see the USMNT play, so check ’em both out.

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 Hany Mukhtar: 8.67 Community comments:
    • Love the goals, no complaints there. I wish he played the whole first half like Sosa had just finished kicking him. He and Cádiz flipped a switch after that confrontation.
    • The hany haters can find the door as far as I’m concerned
    • Much better wide
    • When we couldn’t play dead in a John Wayne movie for 80 minutes, he brought the game to life and stole us a point and took two from ATL.
  • GK Joe Willis: 6.42 Community comments:
    • Better performance than the result would suggest. That save off the Romney deflection was beautiful.
    • The first goal looked awful, but really wasn’t his fault
    • A couple really good stops but also bad charges on the two goals conceded.
  • D Alistair Johnston: 7.11 Community comments:
    • Brilliant not taking the bait on that Moreno yellow. Had some solid crosses and maintained possession well.
    • “Johnston was targeted early and often. He was challenged by speed. His crossing on the move is a work in progress”
  • D Dan Lovitz: 6.65
  • D Walker Zimmerman: 6.58
  • D Dave Romney: 6.25 Community comments:
    • Active off NSC’s sole corner and mostly great in shutting down ATL’s momentum. Romney plays to a higher standard of reliability though, and this wasn’t his usual unsung-hero, team-backbone type performance due to a few early errors.
    • First bad game in Gold
    • Really poor play on the first goal but rebounded fairly well with a tough task in ATL’s attack.
  • M Dax McCarty: 7.07 Community comments:
    • Great game. Read opponents well and forced turnovers. McCarty was everywhere.
    • Still struggling with first touch and decision-making on the ball. Awesome everywhere else
  • M Aníbal Godoy: 6.81
  • M Randall Leal: 6.69 Community comments:
    • Leal’s been good, if not great, all season, but his frustration was evident. He wasn’t getting much support on attacks and was outmatched in size. Great at clearances and advancing mid.
    • Not effective as usual
    • Just not his day moving forward
  • M Alex Muyl: 6.33
  • F Jhonder Cádiz: 6.07 Community comments:
    • Again, maybe he needs to go after someone for kicking Mukhtar as a warm-up before games.
    • Really nice game. Will go down as evidence that he sucks, for REASONS
    • The bicycle was a great attempt but the hustle was very much lacking as NSC needed their DP striker to create something down 2-0.
  • F CJ Sapong (61′ sub): 7.28 Community comments:
    • Really solid, hustles, gets open, actively communicates with others. Should have had two up top the whole game.
    • Always active. Not always productive. In fact rarely so.
    • Really good performance off the bench, opened up that space for Hany to work
  • F Dom Badji (71′ sub): 7.25 Community comments:
    • Played hard, played well, showed character, risked further injury to help maintain a draw for his team. Man gives me chills.
    • If he’d finished that one…. but bonus points for gutting out through pain
    • Guts. He could barely walk but left everything on the field so we wouldn’t have to play a man down. Had he buried the winner on the sequence where he got injured, it’d be an 11.
  • M Matt LaGrassa (77′ sub): 7.19 Community comments:
  • M Luke Haakenson (77′ sub): 6.72
  • Head coach Gary Smith: 7.54 Community comments:
    • Great second half recovery
    • Should’ve carried Badji off the field like Kerri Strug [ed: I try to editorialize as little as possible in community comments nowadays, but this is a “hell yeah” from me]
    • Great adjustments, initial gameplan didn’t seem to work out well
    • Been down 2-0 three times this season and came back to get a point in all three. Need to have better starts, that’s the only reason it’s not a 10
  • Overall Team Rating: 7.08

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.

With no game immediately on the horizon, we spoke in quite a bit more depth about Atlanta on the podcast than the typical recap.

His two-goal outburst landed Mukhtar on the MLS Team of the Week.


My apologies to those who I usually link to here… really pushing to get this post up before I have to get out of the house for a showing. External links back next week.


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