Mike Meredith/Club and Country
It didn’t finish with the result Nashville SC was looking for – a 2-1 loss on home turf – but Nashville SC played LAFC toe-to-toe, enough that on another night, the Boys in Gold may have emerged victorious. Alas, it was not another night, and zero points at home is not what Nashville SC was hoping for.
The visitors got the scoring started in the 27th minute. A surge forward from left back Ryan Hollingshead saw him feed striker Chicho Arango. Although Arango mishit his attempted short cross back in Hollingshead’s direction, it paid off for the Argentine, as the ball looped through the final Nashville defenders and over Joe Willis’s line.
Nashville responded with a penalty kick in the 43rd minute. A corner-kick scrum saw striker CJ Sapong sneak past LAFC midfielder Ilie Sanchez… and Sanchez had no choice but to grab ahold of Sapong’s jersey, taking him down when Sanchez slipped to the ground himself. While it initially went unpunished, video review granted the penalty kick, and Hany Mukhtar rang the left post and saw his shot bound in.
With a level score at the half and Nashville actually boasting comfortable advantages in possession and expected goals (albeit with a penalty kick accounting for much of the latter), it was anyone’s game in the second half.
LAFC wanted to ensure that the three points would be headed back to the City of Angels tonight. Within a minute of the opening whistle after the break, a headed attempt from Hollingshead beat Joe Willis, but bounced off the framework. Midfielder Jose Cifuentes was there to slam it into the top netting to give LA the lead.
Nashville would challenge – and a near-open net for midfielder Dax McCarty saw the veteran captain hurry his shot and mishit wide from the doorstep in the 56th minute – but even with a late flurry of set-piece opportunities could never find the equalizer.
Perhaps the most exciting moment of the late stages of the game arrived when new LAFC forward Gareth Bale entered as a substitute. The Welsh international was recently making $36 million annually to sit the bench for Real Madrid… and now makes a maximum of $1.6 million in nMajor League Soccer. He also had a chance to get a taste of Nashville centerback Walker Zimmerman, whom he’ll face off against in the opening match of Group B in November’s World Cup.
With the loss, Nashville will likely fall to fifth in the Western Conference (pending a Real Salt Lake win against Sporting Kansas City). with a trip to old foe FC Cincinnati waiting on Saturday afternoon.
- 13′ NSH Yellow card – 19 Alex Muyl (foul)
- 18′ NSH Yellow card – 27 Brian Anunga (foul)
- 27′ LAFC GOAL – 9 Chicho Arango (right footed, off-balance), assisted by 24 Ryan Hollingshead (pass across box)
- 43′ NSH GOAL – 10 Hany Mukhtar (right-footed, bottom left corner off post), penalty earned by 17 CJ Sapong (fouled by Ilie Sanchez on corner sequence)
- 45’+4 Half tiem
- 46′ LAFC GOAL – 20 Jose Cifuentes (right-footed, from rebound on doorstep), initial shot by 24 Ryan Hollingshead
- 64′ LAFC Substitution – On 4 Eddie Segura, off 14 Giorgio Chiellini
- 69′ NSH Substitutions –
- On 12 Teal Bunbury, off 19 Alex Muyl
- On 54 Sean Davis, off 6 Dax McCarty
- 72′ LAFC Substitutions –
- On 7 Latif Blessing, off 6 Ilie Sanchez
- On 11 Gareth Bale, off 9 Chicho Arango
- 73′ LAFC Yellow card – 2 Franco Escobar (foul)
- 81′ NSH Substitutions –
- On 9 Ake Loba, off 17 CJ Sapong
- On 26 Luke Haakenson, off 27 Brian Anunga
- 83′ LAFC Yellow card – 7 Latif Blessing (foul)
- 84′ LAFC Substitutions –
- On 25 Sebastien Ibeagha, off 2 Franco Escobar
- On 19 Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, off 22 Kwadwo Opoku
- 89′ NSH Yellow card – 8 Randall Leal (persistent infringement)
- 90’+1 NSH Substitution – On 23 Taylor Washington, off 8 Randall Leal
- 90’+5 Full time