Photo by Mike Meredith/Club and Country
The magic of opening a new park has long-since worn off. Nashville SC’s new home is still a palatial facility, but the home-field magic (and even worse, the hostile atmosphere for visitors) has faded completely. A Nashville team racing out to a 2-0 lead would historically be expected to win by at least that many goals. Instead, the Boyos in Gold gave up two tallies in the span of just five minutes to settle for a 2-2 draw against Portland Timbers.
Sean Davis’s goal to open the scoring was a beauty. The midfielder hadn’t scored since Aug. 12, 2017, and made his first tally in nearly five years worth the wait. After taking a layoff pass from Randall Leal near the corner of the Portland penalty area, Davis took one touch to gather, and blasted a laser into the far-side netting. Bingham hardly even moved before realizing the ball was in the back of his net.
Hany Mukhtar would double the lead early in the second half. The Designated Player initiated a 1-2 with Luke Haakenson on the wing, and was ready at the near corner of the six-yard box for the first-touch finish when Haakenson gave him return service with a ground cross.
When the tide turned, it turned quickly. A 63rd-minute giveaway by goalkeeper Elliot Panicco – in just his second MLS start – led him to foul Portland striker Jarosław Niezgoda, and the resulting penalty kick was converted – through a hand of Panicco, who almost kept it out – by Dairon Asprilla. Just moments later, a midfield giveaway and a quick counterattack for Portland saw Niezgoda finish it himself. Suddenly, what looked like a Nashville romp became an level scoreline.
Even worse, it became a game in which the Timbers were able to tilt the field. Three of the game’s final four shots were in favor of the Timbers, and Nashville’s lone opportunity, a header by Hany Mukhtar, was a low-quality chance. A Timbers team that should have been ecstatic to leave Nashville with a draw was instead confident enough to try for the win – and didn’t have to sweat on the other end.
With the draw, Nashville climbs to fourth in the Western Conference (though having played one more game than the teams tied on points in fifth, Seattle Sounders and FC Dallas, who are a single point back). The Boys in Gold travel to expansion club Charlotte FC next weekend – with an eye toward getting back on the right foot after a slump that has seen the team knocked out of the US Open Cup and winless in three home games in league play. On the bright side, Nashville has not lost on the road since mid-May.
- 19′ NSH GOAL – 54 Sean Davis (right foot, outside the box), assisted by 8 Randall Leal (layoff pass)
- 29′ POR Yellow card – 24 David Ayala
- 45′ Half time
- HT POR Substitution – On 19 Eryk Williamson, off 23 Yimmi Chara
- 50′ POR Yellow card – 18 Zac McGraw (foul)
- 57′ NSH GOAL – 10 Hany Mukhtar (right foot, first touch), assisted by 26 Luke Haakenson (ground cross to near post)
- 64′ POR GOAL – 27 Dairon Asprilla (right-footed penalty), penalty earned by 11 Jarosław Niezgoda (foul by 30 Elliot Panicco)
- 69′ POR GOAL – 11 Jarosław Niezgoda (left foot), assisted by 19 Eryk Williamson (throughball on counter)
- 74′ NSH Substitutions –
- On 5 Jack Maher, off 26 Luke Haakenson
- On 9 Ake Loba, off 17 CJ Sapong
- 74′ POR Substitution – On 44 Marvin Loría, off 10 Sebastian Blanco
- 77′ NSH Yellow card – 25 Walker Zimmerman (foul)
- 80′ POR Substitution – On 9 Felipe Mora, off 11 Jarosław Niezgodad
- 82′ NSH Substitutions –
- On 27 Brian Anunga, off 6 Dax McCarty
- On 12 Teal Bunbury, off 8 Randall Leal
- 90’+1 POR Substitutions –
- On 13 Dario Zuparc, off 27 Dairon Asprilla
- On 20 George Fochive, off 24 David Ayala
- 90’+6 Full time