NASHVILLE – It didn’t take long for the final tally to show up on the Nissan Stadium scoreboards. Nashville SC striker CJ Sapong put his team ahead in the second minute, and the Boys in Gold held on for a 1-0 win over Philadelphia Union.
For the length of one check with the video assistant referee, it appeared that Nashville may have an opportunity to double its lead. On the verge of the halftime break, a Nashville cross skittered through the Philly penalty area. Midfielder Alejandro Bedoya appeared to handle it near his left elbow, but the Union escaped the VAR check unscathed. What they wouldn’t be able to do, though, was find an equalizer.
The Union’s best chance came in the 63rd. Substitute striker Sergio Santos found himself alone near the Nashville penalty spot and fired away. NSC keeper Joe Wilis was able to push the ball over the crossbar, and while the Union would threaten on a couple more occasions, none were particularly dangerous to Willis’s goal.
It may well have been Nashville that found another tally, in fact – with Philly’s Olivier Mbaizo doing the honors. A 71st-minute pass across the face of goal didn’t see Randall Leal find his intended target (Sapong on a far-post run), but Mbaizo’s clearance rung the inside of the goalpost before he was able to corral his own rebound and clear for a Nashville SC corner.
A match with a number of up-and-down surges down the wings was unlucky to only have a single goal in it – but the entertainment value was certainly there for the 22,822 fans who saw the home side win. Unconvincing though it may have been on the final scoreboard, Nashville outshot Philadelphia 11-7 – and no win against the reining Supporters Shield champion is worth turning one’s nose up at.
The team moves up to fourth in the Eastern Conference with 18 points in 11 games. Philadelphia is one point ahead (though has played 12 games), Nashville next takes the pitch Thursday evening. The Boys in Gold welcome Atlanta United to Nissan Stadium. NSC will be without a trio of players who have been called in to Gold Cup squads for their national teams (Aníbal Godoy with Panama, Alistair Johnston with Canada, and Walker Zimmerman with the United States), though the Five Stripes have some unavailable players themselves.
- 2′ NSH GOAL – 17 CJ Sapong (right foot), assisted by 8 Randall Leal (throughball)
- 45’+3 Half time
- HT NSH Substitutions:
- On 20 Aníbal Godoy, off 27 Tah Brian Anunga
- On 19 Alex Muyl, off 12 Alistair Johnston
- 56′ PHI Substitutions:
- On 8 José Andrés Martínez, off 6 Daniel Gazdag
- On 17 Sergio Santos, off 19 Cory Burke
- 79′ PHI Yellow card – 8 José Andrés Martínez (foul)
- 82′ PHI Substitution – On 33 Quinn Sullivan, off 31 Leon Flach
- 83′ NSH Substitution – On 99 Jhonder Cádiz, off 17 CJ Sapong
- 87′ NSH Substitution – On 26 Luke Haakenson, off 8 Randall Leal
- 90′ NSH Substitution – On 7 Abu Danladi, off 10 Hany Mukhtar
- 90’+6 Full time