Mike Meredith/Club and Country
Nashville SC’s home veenue continues to be a house of horrors for the Boys in Gold. Even a few days’ rest and a shorthanded opponent couldn’t break up the bad vibes the home side has experienced at GEODIS Park. Minnesota United scored early and late, but NSC could only muster an equalizer to the first Loons goal, and MNUFC leaves Music City with a 2-1 win.
Early in the game, this was an evenly-played match that was tilted in favor of Nashville. Within the first 15 minutes of play, the teams traded strikes from distance that nearly opened the scoring. Nashville’s Randall Leal saw his long-range effort saved by Minnesota keeper Dayne St. Clair, and almost immediately thereafter, Minnesota striker Luis Amarilla attempted an audacious outside-of-the-foot hit from the top of the penalty area, and although he beat Joe Willis, the crossbar denied him from opening the scoring.
It was an uncharacteristic mistake from Nashville’s two-time reigning MLS Defender of the Year, Walker Zimmerman, that let Minnesota get on the board. An underhit pass from the US International as he tried to pick out Hany Mukhtar with NSC playing out of the back started a Minnesota break. Attacker Emanuel Reynoso fed winger Franco Fragapane into the left edge of the box, and his lefty shot beat both a recovering Zimmerman and also Willis from a tight angle.
From there, Nashville took control of the game, but – as has become all-too common during the recent period of struggle – was unable to turn that into goals. After the break, the dominance continued, until finally they were able to break through. A free kick earned by some nifty footwork out of recent signing Shaq Moore put one of the most dangerous players in the league over the ball on the edge of the Minnesota penalty area. While Mukhtar’s service was cleared away, the second phase of the set piece saw a cross from Alex Muyl headed on, and Mukhtar was at the back post to finish, leveling the score in the 61st.
It was not to be for Nashville, though. Some iffy defending from Moore allowed Joseph Rosales to get to the endline, and his ground cross made it all the way across the box, where right back Alan Benitez slammed home the ultimate winner. A number of attacking subs from Nashville kept the Loons worried, but could not do enough to level the score once more.
A 63-37 advantage in possession. 11-3 in attacking-area opportunities from a deal ball. A 1.6-1.1 xG advantage (which flatters Minnesota since Fragapane’s tally got the “is goal” flag, artificially inflating the xG value). Another performance in which Nashville has plenty of arguments for having been the better team… except the most important one, actually coming out on top of the scoreboard. It’s been a common refrain in 2022, and particularly during a run of home games that looked like it would take the team to another level after starting the season with a difficult road trip.
The silver lining for NSC is that even a 3-4-5 home record (and 1-4-2 after starting 2-0-3 at GEODIS Park) hasn’t been enough to knock Nashville out of the playoff field just yet – pending a final result in Seattle this evening, where a Sounders win or draw would bump NSC down to No. 8 in the Western Conference. But any and all margin for error has been destroyed by this run of form, and a bounceback will be necessary to make the postseason.
Nashville next hosts an FC Dallas team that it fell to in Frisco back on March 12. With a full week between games, FCD visits Music City next Sunday evening. If the Boys in Gold can’t snap their ignominious streak (six winless, just one win in the past nine), the MLS Cup Playoffs may begin to look more like a distant dream, than an expectation.
- 27′ MIN GOAL – 7 Franco Fragapane (left-footed, to far corner), assisted by 10 Emanuel Reynoso (throughball after turnover)
- 31′ MIN Yellow card – 10 Emanuel Reynoso (dissent)
- 45’+1 MIN Yellow card – 7 Franco Fragapane (foul)
- 45’+3 Half time
- 46′ MIN Yellow card – 17 Robin Lød (foul)
- 61′ NSH GOAL – 10 Hany Mukhtar (right foot, set-piece situation), assisted by 4 Dave Romney (flick-on) and 19 Alex Muyl (cross after initial set-piece service from Mukhtar)
- 73′ MIN Substitution – On 8 Joseph Rosales, off 7 Franco Fragapane
- 73′ NSH Substitution – On 26 Luke Haakenson, off 19 Alex Muyl
- 75′ MIN GOAL – 2 Alan Benitez (right-footed), assisted by 8 Joseph Rosales (low cross)
- 76′ NSH Substitution – On 20 Aníbal Godoy, off 6 Dax McCarty
- 83′ NSH Substitution – On 11 Ethan Zubak, off 54 Sean Davis
- 84′ MIN Substitution – On 6 Jonathan Gonzalez, off 10 Emanuel Reynoso