Mike Meredith/Club and Country. On loan from The Louvre.
The penultimate kick of the game will provide a bit of disappointment to close the evening, but ultimately, Nashville SC dominated Inter Miami CF for all but the final 13 seconds of the match en route to a 2-1 win at GEODIS Park.
The first half was a masterclass for the Boys in Gold. The opponent didn’t have a shot through 45 minutes – for the second time in three league matches – while NSC found what should have stood as the game winner 33 minutes in.
Fafa Picault was on the end of the sequence, and ultimately his name will go into the scorebook for putting the ball in the back of the net, but the brilliance of reigning league MVP Hany Mukhtar was on display to create the opportunity. Mukhtar settled long service from Aníbal Godoy at the edge of the 18 yard box, and his incredible bit of skill – a stepover and a shoulder fake that sent Miami centerback Chris McVey into Williamson County trying to stick with his mark (captured brilliantly by Club and Country photographer Mike Meredith, above) – created the space to feed Picault, who slid it home.
In the second half, it was recent signing Lukas MacNaughton who nodded home what ultimately did go down as the winning goal. A recycled set piece saw right back Shaq Moore pump the ball back into the box, and in the 49th minute, the former Toronto FC man nodded to the far post to give Nashville the 2-0 lead.
On a night when Nashville notched a 2.9-0.9 advantage in expected goals, perhaps the only significant disappointment is that the game didn’t end in a shutout. On the penultimate kick of the game, Miami midfielder Dixon Arroyo knocked home the rebound after Joe Willis punched away corner-kick service – and found himself out of position to take on another attempt from the Herons (though it’s worth noting that Nashville head coach Gary Smith cited the defense, not the goalkeeper, as the culprit on the play). A 2-1 win is still a win, no doubt, but a 2-0 victory would have felt all the sweeter.
Nashville doesn’t have long to savor it: a trip to Charlotte FC beckons Saturday evening, with NSC thinking revenge after a 4-1 defeat in the Queen City last Summer. While CFC has had a rough start to the season, a three-game win streak and a climb into the playoff positions has the team brimming with confidence. Of course, Nashville is riding a five-game unbeaten streak (three wins) of its own, and a climb to third in the Eastern Conference may do little more than put a target on the team’s back. The match kicks at 6:30 p.m. CDT (7:30 local).
Nashville SC Lineup
- 18′ MIA Yellow card – 33 Franco Negri (foul)
- 33′ NSH GOAL – 7 Fafa Picault (right foot, sliding first touch), assisted by 10 Hany Mukhtar (cutback pass after hilarious stepover) and 20 Aníbal Godoy (longball to Mukhtar)
- 45’+1 Half time
- HT MIA Substitution – On 7 Josef Martinez, off 13 Victor Ulloa
- 49′ NSH GOAL – 3 Lukas MacNaughton (headed), assisted by 18 Shaq Moore (early cross from right side after set piece)
- 52′ MIA Yellow card – 3 Dixon Arroyo (foul)
- 56′ MIA Yellow card – 18 Harvey Neville (dissent)
- 67′ MIA Substitutions –
- On 2 DeAndre Yedlin, off 18 Harvey Neville
- On 24 Ian Fray, off 15 Ryan Sailor
- 70′ NSH Substitutions –
- On 14 Jacob Shaffelburg, off 7 Fafa Picault
- On 23 Taylor Washington, off 12 Teal Bunbury
- 78′ MIA Substitution – On 14 Corentin Jean, off 16 Robert Taylor
- 81′ NSH Substitution – On 8 Randall Leal, off 19 Alex Muyl
- 87′ MIA Substitution – On 49 Shanyder Borgelin, off 9 Leonardo Campana
- 87′ NSH Substitutions –
- On 24 Jan Gregus, off 54 Sean Davis
- On 27 Brian Anunga, off 20 Aníbal Godoy
- 90’+3 MIA GOAL – 3 Dixon Arroyo (right footed, from rebound after set piece)
- 90’+3 Full time