Team photo courtesy Nashville SC
For much of Nashville SC’s eight-game road trip, the Boys in Gold didn’t play like you might expect a team in the midst of a long slog with no reprieve. NSC was at-times proactive, even dominant. That was not the case for the duration of their trip to LA Galaxy Saturday evening, and in the second half, the hosts poured on the pressure before finally finding a winner to take the 1-0 victory.
The first half, however, was fairly even – in that neither team was sharp enough to threaten the opposing net. A number of passes over the top for each team resulted in offside calls. One of those saw a Hany Mukhtar chip go just wide – pretty even if it wouldn’t have counted had it gone in. The teams traded possessions in dangerous attacking areas… without much in the way of end product. In the 39th minute, Nashville’s Randall Leal produced the best chance of the first half for the Boys in Gold (a phrase here meaning “blue team”). A slipped pass found him in some space behind the defense on the left wing, but with help arriving for the Galaxy, Leal’s hurried shot with the left foot couldn’t beat Jonathan Bond.
After going into the locker rooms on level footing, the teams emerged with a different mindset – and it was LA who wanted to keep the pressure on. In the 48th minute, LA’s Efraín Alvarez beat Joe Willis, but not the post on a striker from outside the box with his preferred left foot. That set the tone early in a half where Nashville SC spent plenty of time trying to figure out ways to get action out of its own end. Including two sliding clearances from Walker Zimmerman, the team was able to do enough to keep the Galaxy from turning that territorial dominance into anything tangible on the scoreboard. In the 81st, it was Willis playing hero on a left-footed strike from Chicharito to keep the score level.
It was substitute Dejan Joveljic who would finally break the dam. In the 86th minute, the Galaxy played a short-corner routine that saw a ball from the top of the box played in to the back post. Centerback Derrick Williams laid it off for the Serbian, whose first touch beat Willis soundly. After a raucous (and yellow-card-earning) celebration, Nashville substitutes Luke Haakenson and Aké Loba didn’t have time to get a touch of the ball, much less a shot to equalize.
With the loss, Nashville SC ends its season-opening road trip with 11 points – but will feel like were a few more to squeeze out of that stretch. That puts NSC in eighth place in the Western Conference, with 17 of the final 26 games coming at home. The next game will be the very first at a home of Nashville’s own, with Philadelphia Union visiting GEODIS Park as Music City christens the largest soccer-specific stadium in the country.
The Sunday afternoon tilt kicks off at 1:30 p.m. local time, and will be one to remember for years to come.
- 45’+2 Half time
- 58′ LA Substitution – On 10 Douglas Costa, off 11 Samuel Grandsir
- 77′ NSH Substitution – On 27 Tah Brian Anunga, off 20 Aníbal Godoy
- 77′ LA Substitution – On 99 Dejan Joveljiic, off 9 Kevin Cabral
- 86′ LA GOAL – 99 Dejan Joveljic (right-footed, first time), assisted by 3 Derrick Williams (lay-off from long service)
- 87′ LA Yellow card – 99 Dejan Joveljic (removing shirt)
- 87′ NSH Substitutions –
- On 9 Aké Loba, off 17 CJ Sapong
- On 26 Luke Haakenson, off 8 Randall Leal
- 89′ LA Yellow card – 14 Chicharito (foul, dangerous play)
- 90′ LA Substitution – On 16 Sacha Kljestan, off 14 Chicharito
- 90’+3 Full time