Nashville SC’s early-season run of form was bound to end at some point. But certainly after knocking off Seattle Sounders and drawing Minnesota United, the first loss of the year wasn’t bound to come against an FC Dallas team that was among MLS’s worst in 2021 and sold its best player, right?
The teams played a back-and-forth game with a limited number of chances (though some of those iffy chances nonetheless looked like potential goals), before the game hinged on an 82nd-minute penalty call.
A lofted cross into the box by FC Dallas’s Brandon Servania didn’t find its intended target – winger Paul Arriola – but that was because the US International was hitting the deck through contact with Nashville defender Jack Maher. A whistle, a penalty, and a VAR review (upheld) later, Franco Jara gave the hosts the lead, and it didn’t take long to tack on a second on a desperate Nashville SC team, giving FCD a 2-0 win – and dealing Nashville a first loss since last Oct. 23.
It wasn’t a sharp game for either team, with scrapping in the midfield a defining characteristic throughout much of the run of play. It wasn’t a sharp game from the center official either, with Ramy Touchan going to the pocket early for run-of-the-mill fouls on both teams, and never finding a handle on the game that allowed him to control what ultimately devolved into a chippy affair.
Nashville SC managed to take just five shots in the game, and none in the second half. None of those five shots was on-target. The Boys in Gold also lost midfield captain Dax McCarty early in that half after he tried to play through a knee knock suffered late in the first half. The absence of the McCarty Metronome saw Gary Smith’s team slowly lose its grip on the midfield battle, and – regardless of whether he felt the penalty was fairly given – cede second-half dominance to Dallas.
With the loss, Nashville drops to 1-1-1 on the year, and with a negative season goal differential for the first time since nudging into the positive in late October of the club’s inaugural season. With games still to be played this weekend, the team sits eighth in the Western Conference. It’s an extremely small sample size – and without having played a home game yet, there’s plenty of upside – but a status the club will want to improve.
NSC will have a week to lick its wounds and figure out if McCarty’s absence will be a long one – and brainstorm methods to cope if it keeps him off the pitch – before a trip to Real Salt Lake next Saturday. The teams played a scoreless draw in Utah last season, the only meeting between them.
- 25′ DAL Yellow card – 19 Paxton Pomykal (foul)
- 28′ NSH Yellow card – 17 CJ Sapong (foul)
- 33′ DAL Yellow card – 3 Jose Martínez (foul)
- 40′ NSH Yellow card – 8 Randall Leal (foul)
- 45’+5 Half time
- 49′ NSH Substitution – On 19 Alex Muyl, off 6 Dax McCarty (injury)
- 62′ NSH Yellow card – 19 Alex Muyl (foul)
- 64′ DAL Substitution – On 20 Alan Velasco, off 8 Jader Obrian
- 66′ NSH Substitution – On 12 Teal Bunbury, off 17 CJ Sapong
- 79 DAL Substitutions –
- On 29 Franco Jara, off 19 Paxton Pomykal
- On 22 Ema Twumasi, off 31 Nanu
- On 17 Nkosi Tafari, off 3 Jose Martínez
- 80′ NSH Substitutions –
- On 5 Jack Maher, off 15 Eric Miller
- On 9 Aké Loba, off 8 Randall Leal
- 81′ NSH Yellow card – 20 Aníbal Godoy (dissent)
- 85′ DAL GOAL – 29 Franco Jara penalty (right-footed to bottom left corner), drawn by 7 Paul Arriola (foul on 5 Jack Maher)
- 87′ DAL GOAL – 20 Alan Velasco (left-footed, after dribble), assisted by 18 Brandon Servania
- 89′ DAL Substitution – On 5 Facundo Quignon, off 10 Jesús Ferreira
- 90’+6 DAL Yellow card – 6 Edwin Cerrillo (time-wasting)
- 90’+8 Full time