After a first-half slog, Nashville SC found itself on the wrong end of an exciting second half with a 2-1 loss to Inter Miami CF. Nashville’s second loss of the year was Miami’s second home win in a row – and all year – at DRV Pink Stadium.
The first half was… not notable. Nashville’s 5-3-2 formation was not built to press, and Miami was able to maintain control of the ball. The effort of the Herons in ball retention was aided by their lack of effort in trying to do literally anything with it. IMCF was happy to play for a draw, at least through the first 45 minutes, and Nashville wasn’t set up to do much about it.
That changed shortly after the break. A sustained period of Nashville pressure allowed Sapong to nod home an out-swinging corner kick from Mukhtar, giving the visitors the lead. That certainly woke up IMCF, though. It took just 10 minutes for the Herons to respond, with a throughball from Blaise Matuidi sneaking past right back Eric Miller to find Gonzalo Higuaín. The Designated Player made no mistake in slotting past Nashville keeper Joe Willis.
The game continued opening up from there, with each side finding a number of chances. After the first half saw the teams combine for just 0.4 expected goals, per Opta’s in-game stats, they traded blows after the break.
Perhaps the best chance for Nashville will be underrated by the xG calculations. After a run from Hany Mukhtar and Aké Loba on the break gave the Boys in Gold possession deep in Miami territory, a solid piece of technical ability from Loba allowed him to keep the ball inbounds, and he lobbed a cross to a completed unmarked Jhonder Cádiz on the opposite corner of the six-yard box. Rather than settling the ball to shoot, the big Venezuelan attempted a leaning header, and his glancing contact on the ball didn’t guide it in the direction of the net.
That was Nashville’s chance to win. Instead, it gave IMCF the opportunity to steal victory, and the Herons did just that in stoppage time. Gonzalo Higuaín dribbled the ball into center official Nima Seghafi, and on the ensuing restart, big brother Federico Higuaín lobbed a ball into the Nashville box, and former US Youth International Indiana Vassilev nodded home.
That it was two players who draw mixed-at-best reactions from Nashville SC fans – Cádiz and Miller – who made crucial second-half mistakes will only add insult to injury for NSC. Any loss is going to hurt, but one in a burgeoning rivalry that featured woulda-coulda-shoulda moments has an additional sting. The loss drops Nashville to fifth in the East (though level on points with Philadelphia Union and holding a game in-hand, while NYCFC has a game in-hand on Nashville and two on Philly with the same 28 points).
The Boys in Gold have a chance to wipe the bad taste out of their mouths with a return to Nissan Stadium next weekend, where they’ll host DC United. United stands sixth in the East, with tonight’s game at Montreal still to play – and the potential to get in passing distance of NSC with a victory.
- 45’+2 NSH Yellow card – 6 Dax McCarty (foul)
- 45’+3 Half time
- HT NSH Substitution – On 19 Alex Muyl, off 5 Jack Maher
- 48′ NSH GOAL – 17 CJ Sapong (headed), assisted by 10 Hany Mukhtar (right-footed corner kick)
- 55′ MIA Substitutions:
- On 20 Brek Shea, off 3 Kieran Gibbs
- On 29 Indiana Vassilev, off 31 Kelvin Leerdam
- 60′ MIA GOAL – 9 Gonzalo Higuaín (right foot), assisted by 8 Blaise Matuidi (throughball)
- 61′ NSH Substitutions:
- On 27 Tah Brian Anunga, off 20 Aníbal Godoy
- On 72 Ake Loba, off 17 CJ Sapong
- 65′ MIA Substitution – On 22 Federico Higuaín, off 10 Rodolfo Pizarro
- 73′ NSH Substitution – On 99 Jhonder Cádiz, off 8 Randall Leal
- 90′ MIA Substitutions:
- On 17 Ryan Shawcross, off 4 Christian Makoun
- 90′ NSH Substitution – On 22 Matt LaGrassa, off 15 Eric Miller
- 90’+5 MIA GOAL – 29 Indiana Vassilev (headed), assisted by 22 Federico Higuaín (deep cross)
- 90’+7 Full time