It wasn’t easy – particularly after Columbus made a halftime replacement of Erik Hurtado, putting veteran Bradley Wright-Phillips at striker – but Nashville SC did what was necessary, and secured a scoreless draw against Columbus Crew at Lower.com Field.
In three games at its new home, Columbus now has a second draw – against East-leading New England Revolution – and a win over NYCFC. It’s certainly better to be the brethren of the former than the latter.
It was a night of potential free-kick magic, with a third-minute attempt from Nashville’s Hany Mukhtar drawing a save from the Crew’s Eloy Room. Columbus’s Lucas Zelarayan had attempts from prime areas at the top of the box in the 16th minute and the 58th, but each was taken care of by the Nashville wall.
Nashville fielded a heavily-rotated group – with three of its typical starting defenders out, a pseudo-back-five with Dax McCarty playing in the en vogue hybrid CDM/CB role flanked by Taylor Washington and Dave Romney (who still has not missed a minute of MLS action for Nashville SC) to his left, and Jalil Anibaba and Eric Miller to his right. It was effective, with seven of Columbus’s 18 shots blocked before they troubled keeper Joe Willis, and most of Willis’s saves coming right into the bread basket.
The match featured another exciting milestone for Nashville SC: the debut of new Designated Player signing Aké Loba. In his first match after a transfer from Liga MX’s Monterrey, he almost had a prime scoring opportunity in the 89th minute, with a miscommunication between Columbus’s backline and Room resulting in a loose ball at the keeper’s feet, but neither Loba nor fellow substitute striker Jhonder Cádiz could quite steal the ball away – and steal all three points for Nashville.
Columbus had a couple opportunities in stoppage time – a Kevin Molino first-time hit just wide, and a penalty shout after winger Pedro Santos ran over the leg of a prone Jalil Anibaba – but it was not to be, and the teams split the points.
With the draw, Nashville is up to third place in the Eastern Conference. The Boys in Gold next take the field when they host 11th-place FC Cincinnati at Nissan Stadium.
- 18′ CLB Yellow card – 2 Perry Kitchen (foul)
- 21′ NSH Yellow card – 22 Matt LaGrassa (foul)
- 43′ CLB Yellow card – 33 Erik Hurtado (foul)
- 45′ Half time
- HT Columbus substitutions:
- On 99 Bradley Wright-Phillips, off 33 Erik Hurtado
- On 17 Marlon Hairston, off 2 Perry Kitchen
- 65′ CLB Substitution – On 9 Kevin Molino, off 22 Derrick Etienne Jr.
- 69′ NSH Substitutions:
- On 8 Randall Leal, off 10 Hany Mukhtar
- On 99 Jhonder Cádiz, off 17 CJ Sapong
- 81′ NSH Substitution – On 72 Aké Loba, off 19 Alex Muyl
- 82′ CLB Substitution – On 20 Alexandru Matan, off 14 Waylon Francis
- 90’+8 Full time