Nashville SC

Nashville SC falls in Houston

Forgot to hit the publish button Saturday night. Sorry! Photo courtesy Nashville SC

It wasn’t Nashville’s night. Certainly there are fair questions about how Gary Smith teams approach a man-advantage situation (for me: aimless crosses are not great), but even down a goal early, a deserved red card to a Houston player shouldn’t see NSC lose by a two-goal margin. But that’s exactly what we saw as NSC couldn’t crack the code of a Houston Dynamo defense defending with its back against the wall. A 2-0 victory for the home team will see the Boys in Gold lick their wounds before a quick turnaround.

Houston’s Coco Carrasquilla got the scoring started early, banging home a rebound after a lovely sequence of attacking play from the Dynamo. Although Memo Rodriguez’s initial shot from a pullback cross was saved by NSC keeper Joe Willis, he managed only to spill the ball wide, and there was nothing he or his defenders could do about Carrasquilla’s second crack at it.

It appeared Nashville’s fortunes would change in the 35th minute. A vicious tackle from Houston’s Adam Lundkvist saw the Swede sent off, and after Alex Muyl was eventually able to return to his feet, Nashville was no worse for the wear out of the exchange. However, the entire starting lineup looked to be feeling the effects of a 120-minute heavyweight battle against Atlanta United in the midweek, and the legs simply weren’t there.

Nashville MVP candidate Hany Mukhtar took the field at halftime, but even he was unable to spearhead an attack that amounted to much more than lumping in crosses from wide positions against a Houston defense that had no reason to do anything other than defend at all costs.

The Dynamo would find another, however, with a counter-attacking sequence by Darwin Quintero resulting in a penalty kick after Willis fouled winger Fafa Picault. With Fafa charging in alone on goal, Willis left his line to play the man, but got all leg when Picault moved to round him near the top of the penalty area. Quintero converted the penalty, and Nashville was cooked.

Even the insertion of a couple more regular starters – defenders Walker Zimmerman and Dan Lovitz, who provide set-piece finishing and service, respectively, on a typical night – couldn’t see Nashville claw back. Ultimately, only 12 total shots, with just two on target, isn’t going to be enough to beat even a weaker Western Conference side.

With the loss Nashville is actually passed in the table by the Dynamo (though the underlying stats have not been kind to Houston and could see the bottom drop out). On 15 points with a negative goal differential, NSC sits eighth in the West. There’s certainly reason to believe that a run of home games – following the opening of GEODIS Park – could see Gary Smith’s side climb back up the table. But it won’t happen if the depth of the team can’t carry the torch when needed.

Starting lineups

Match events

  • 16′ HOU GOAL – 22 Adalberto Carrasquilla (right foot, from rebound. Initial shot by 8 Memo Rodriguez)
  • 35′ HOU Red card – 3 Adam Lundkvist (serious foul on Alex Muyl)
  • 40′ HOU Substitution – On 29 Sam Junqua, off 34 Thor Úlfarsson
  • 42′ HOU Yellow card – 12 Steve Clark (dissent)
  • 42′ HOU Yellow card – 17 Teenage Hadebe (dissent)
  • 45’+1 NSH Yellow card – 15 Eric Miller
  • 45’+5 Half time
  • HT NSH substitution – On 10 Hany Mukhtar, off 19 Alex Muyl
  • 46′ NSH Yellow card – 5 Jack Maher (foul)
  • 49′ HOU Yellow card – 23 Darwin Quintero (dissent)
  • 53′ HOU GOAL – 23 Darwin Quintero (right-footed penalty, earned by 10 Fafa Picault and conceded by Joe Willis)
  • 58′ HOU Substitution – On 13 Ethan Bartlow, off 23 Darwin Quintero
  • 64′ NSH Substitutions –
    • On 25 Walker Zimmerman, off 4 Dave Romney
    • On 9 Aké Loba, off 17 CJ Sapong
    • On 2 Dan Lovitz, off 23 Taylor Washington
  • 78′ NSH Substitution – On 7 Handwalla, off 26 Luke Haakenson
  • 79′ HOU Substitutions –
    • On 25 Griffin Dorsey, off 37 Zeca
    • On 14 Roberto Ávila, off 8 Memo Rodriguez
    • On 19 Tyler Pasher, off 10 Fafa Picault
  • 86′ NSH Yellow card – 11 Ethan Zubak (persistent infringement)
  • 90’+1 NSH Yellow card – 25 Walker Zimmerman (foul)
  • 90’+6 Full time

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