Nashville SC’s preseason took its first lump Tuesday afternoon in Clearwater, Fla. Head coach Gary Smith began the game with an extremely experimental lineup – and four minutes in, a goal from winger Luke Haakenson – before rolling through more typical personnel (and substitution patterns) as the friendly progressed. In the end, it took nearly all two scrimmage hours, but FC Cincinnati was able to find the 100th-minute goal to earn the 3-2 win against the Boys in Gold.
Alex Muyl assisted Haakenson’s fourth-minute goal before adding one himself shortly after the halftime break. In between, Cincinnati responded immediately to the first goal with an Isaac Atanga tally, then striker Calvin Harris (who had provided the assist on Atanga’s goal) scored quickly top open the second half.
At that halftime break, Nashville replaced five members of the lineup – largely with first-choice options, including reigning MLS Defender of the Year Walker Zimmerman, the only player who has featured in every competitive minute for this club in keeper Joe Willis, and both members of one of the better central midfield duos in the league (Aníbal Godoy and Dax McCarty), along with designated player Aké Loba to replace Haakenson. Even more substitutions in the 60th minute – six of them, to be precise – put what could be considered the most likely starting XI for this club on the pitch at once (for the first time in friendly competition this Spring). The lone top-line player to rest the entire contest was striker CJ Sapong.
The scrimmage format saw the squads play an extra 30 minutes beyond the second half, and in the 10th of those minutes, FC Cincinnati Academy prospect Harrison Robledo scored the final goal of the game. The 3-2 result may not ultimately be meaningful – Cincinnati had a solid 2019 preseason and finished with the Wooden Spoon in the regular season, went 4-2-1 in 2020’s preseason and finished with the Wooden Spoon in the regular season, went 0-3-1 in 2021’s preseason and finished with the Wooden Spoon during the regular season – but for Nashville SC, one more step toward opening kick of its third MLS season is in the books.
The Boys in Gold close their friendly schedule Saturday, with a game against Philadelphia Union, also in Clearwater.
FCC started a ton of guys at overlapping positions, so clearly some guys were out of position. Thus, I’m guessing what they looked like. Murphy and Kamdem are an unsigned draft pick and a trialist from Atlanta United 2, respectively.
- 4′ NSH GOAL – 26 Luke Haakenson (headed), assisted by 19 Alex Muyl (cross)
- 5′ CIN GOAL – 23 Isaac Atanga, assisted by 20 Calvin Harris
- 17′ CIN Substitution – On 68 Stiven Jimenez (academy), off 5 Gustavo Vallecilla
- 45′ Half time
- HT NSH Substitutions:
- On 9 Aké Loba, off 26 Luke Haakenson
- On 20 Aníbal Godoy, off 27 Tah Brian Anunga
- On 6 Dax McCarty, off 54 Sean Davis
- On 25 Walker Zimmerman, off 21 Ahmed Longmire
- On 1 Joe Willis, off 35 Bryan Meredith
- HT CIN Substitution – On 14 Nick Hagglund, off 8 Allan Cruz
- 47′ CIN GOAL – 20 Calvin Harris
- 50′ NSH GOAL – 19 Alex Muyl (from rebound)
- 60′ NSH Substitutions:
- On 10 Hany Mukhtar, off 8 Randall Leal
- On 12 Teal Bunbury, off 14 Daniel Ríos
- On 15 Eric Miller, off 19 Alex Muyl
- On 2 Dan Lovitz, off 23 Taylor Washington
- On 5 Jack Maher, off 24 Robert Castellanos
- On 4 Dave Romney, off 22 Josh Bauer
- 67′ CIN Yellow card – 2 Alvas Powell
- 75′ CIN Substitutions: (lots of them)
- 90′ Full time
- 100′ CIN GOAL – Harrison Robledo
- 111′ NSH Substitution – On 11 Ethan Zubak, off 9 Aké Loba
- 120′ End extra time