Photo courtesy Nashville SC
Hosting two of the Western Conference’s worst teams over the past couple weeks, Nashville SC could muster a single draw, a single point. Leave it to DC United to help break out of that ignominious (albeit brief) period of struggle. Dan Lovitz got the scoring going early, Hany Mukhtar scored a pair himself, and DC could manage only a consolation goal as the Boys in Gold left Audi Field with a 3-1 victory on the road.
Nashville spent much of the first half playing against the ball, and Lovitz scored the opener at the end of a counter-attacking sequence. A pair of DC players collided in their attempts to clear a cross (one of them getting a strong bump on Mukhtar first), and the ball only got as far as Lovitz in the corner of the penalty area. He ripped an outside-of-the-foot shot with his favored left leg, drilling it inside the near post to give Nashville the lead.
The Boys in Gold were even more content to let DC possess without threatening for the remainder of the half, and another counterattack broke the game open in stoppage time. Midfielder Randall Leal – in just his second game and first start back from a long-term ankle injury – sent a beautiful throughball to captain Dax McCarty in behind the DC defense. Rather than take a close-range shot, McCarty slid the ball back across the face of goal, where Mukhtar was there to dunk it home and double the lead.
Mukhtar would effectively end the game in the early stages of the second half. After collecting a progressive pass from Leal near the top of the DC penalty area, he cut onto his left foot and drill a shot hard to the far post. A deflection changed his plans, though, sending the ball looping near post. It caught DC keeper Rafael Romo flat-footed, though, and caught just enough of the crossbar on the way down to send it into the back of the net.
The hosts wouldn’t go home completely empty-handed (though this turn ultimately turn into their fourth loss in five games, with a home draw against lowly Toronto FC the only respite). Designated player Taxi Fountas banged home a shot from 10 yards out after a counter sequence from DC saw Nigal Robertha in space near the touchline for a pullback (or mostly square) pass. United would threaten a couple more times, but never truly put fear into keeper Joe Willis – nor his teammates – and Nashville cruised to victory.
With the win, Nashville is up to fourth place in the Western Conference on 26 points – albeit having played two more games than the three teams immediately behind in the standings. The Boys in Gold will return to GEODIS Park next weekend, trying to get back to their winning home ways with a Sunday evening contest against Portland Timbers. Though the Timbers sit 13th in the West, it’s instructive for Nashville’s potential to take them lightly that the two teams flanking them in the standings are the Sporting KC and San Jose teams that have picked up results in Music City in recent weeks.
Having scored three goals on the road, though (the second time this season, without having reached that mark yet at GEODIS Park), Nashville should be brimming with confidence – and a pep in their step during preparations this week.
- 6′ NSH GOAL – 2 Dan Lovitz (left-foot, outside-of-boot, from rebound)
- 21′ DC Yellow card – 14 Andy Najar (foul)
- 26′ NSH Yellow card – 2 Dan Lovitz (foul)
- 45’+1 NSH GOAL – 10 Hany Mukhtar (right-footed, first touch on doorstep), assisted by 6 Dax McCarty (square pass from in-behind) and 8 Randall Leal (throughball to McCarty)
- 45’+5 Half time
- 50′ NSH GOAL – 10 Hany Mukhtar (left-footed from top of box, deflected), assisted by 8 Randall Leal (pass from midfield)
- 54′ NSH Yellow card – 25 Walker Zimmerman (foul)
- 56′ DC Substitutions –
- On 23 Donovan Pines, off 31 Julian Gressel
- On 7 Michael Estrada, off 9 Ola Kamara
- 59′ DC GOAL – 11 Taxi Fountas (right-footed, first time), assisted by 19 Nigel Robertha (square ball from Man City zone)
- 60′ NSH Yellow card – 4 Dave Romney (foul)
- 62′ NSH Substitution – On 26 Luke Haakenson, off 8 Randall Leal
- 63′ DC Yellow card – 15 Steve Birnbaum (foul)
- 71′ DC Substitution – On 17 Kimarni Smith, off 5 Brad Smith
- 74′ NSH Substitutions –
- On 9 Ake Loba, off 17 CJ Sapong
- On 27 Brian Anunga, off 6 Dax McCarty
- 83′ DC Substitution – On 12 Drew Skundrich, off 6 Russell Canouse
- 84′ NSH Yellow card – 27 Brian Anunga (foul)
- 86′ NSH Substitutions –
- On 11 Ethan Zubak, off 10 Hany Mukhtar
- On 23 Taylor Washington, off 2 Dan Lovitz
- 90’+2 NSH Yellow card – 26 Luke Haakenson (time-wasting)
- 90’+5 Full time