Mike Meredith/Club and Country
It was not, strictly speaking, the beautiful game. Nashville SC’s thrid-round US Open Cup match against USL Championship side San Antonio FC was nothing if not a slog.
A heavily-rotated Nashville squad (Jack Maher and Jacob Shaffelburg were the only starters who feature regularly in starting lineups during league play) took the game to San Antonio, but one of the best teams in USL was able to stymie any attempt to create a golden chance. SAFC’s five-man backline was matched with an odd backline from Nashville, as well, and it turned out to be a cross-heavy attack for the Boys in Gold as they tried to squeak through without taxing too many first-choice players.
It was the infusion of first-team talent – Dan Lovitz and Fafa Picault at the half, Teal Bunbury in the 62nd minute – that changed the game.
In the 71st minute, Picault used speed and awareness to bully a San Antonio defender off the ball before he could execute a backpass to his keeper. Picault drew out the keeper on the dribble, and squared to Ethan Zubak to finish on the doorstep and provide Nashville the 1-0 win.
In Cup play especially, there are no style points, and Nashville did enough to advance to the Round of 32. The Boys in Gold will find out their next-round opponent at 1 p.m. this afternoon – Birmingham Legion and Memphis 901 FC of USL and fellow MLS side FC Dallas are the options – for a mid-May chance to advance toward the club’s first trophy.
Up first, though, is a return to league play, with old rival Atlanta United visiting GEODIS Park this Saturday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. CDT.
- 32′ SA Substitution – On 31 Connor Maloney, off 47 Roman Holt
- 33′ SA Yellow card – 17 Kimarni Smith (time wasting)
- 45′ Half time
- HT NSH Substitutions –
- On 2 Dan Lovitz, off 5 Jack Maher
- On 7 Fafa Picault, off 19 Alex Muyl
- HT SA Substitution – On 19 Cristian Parano, off 29 Kai Koreniuk
- 61′ SA Substitution – On 14 Samuel Adeniran, off 10 David Loera
- 62′ NSH Substitution – On 12 Teal Bunbury, off 14 Jacob Shaffelburg
- 71′ NSH GOAL – 11 Ethan Zubak (right foot, sliding first touch), assisted by 7 Fafa Picault (square pass at top of six-yard box)
- 77′ SA Substitutions –
- On 2 Carter Manley, off 27 Zico Bailey
- On 8 Jorge Hernández, off 17 Kimarni Smith
- 79′ SA Yellow card – 8 Jorge Hernández (foul)
- 82′ NSH Substitutions –
- On 18 Shaq Moore, off 26 Luke Haakenson
- On 43 Joey DeZart, off 11 Ethan Zubak
- 88′ NSH Yellow card – 7 Fafa Picault (dissent)
- 90’+4 Full time