Nashville SC scored one goal a piece in each half in a complete performance that every player on the field Wednesday night will be proud of. Centre-Back for Nashville SC, Lukas MacNaughton, scored the winning goal after a late mistake from Nashville SC’s goalkeeper, Joe Willis, who gave Inter Miami a consolation goal in stoppage time.
Team news for Wednesday night’s match against Inter Miami CF had some notable headlines. For starters, Nashville’s captain and star defender, Walker Zimmerman, remained out for the third straight match due to injury. However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom as they received reinforcements that included Randall Leal in the matchday squad in league play for the first time since late February and Sean Davis who was thrusted back into the starting lineup after missing four matches. Inter Miami also rotated a bit during this midweek match as they placed two MLS stars, Josef Martinez (leading the team in goals with three), and USMNT veteran, DeAndre Yedlin, both on the substitutes bench.
The first half, although they only had one goal to show for it, was completely dominated by Nashville SC. After the end of the first half, Nashville held just over 65% of the possession and didn't allow Inter Miami to get a single shot in the entirety of the first 45 minutes. The goal came from two players that played lots of minutes with each other, that being Nashville’s Anibal Gudoy and Hany Mukhtar. Gudoy lobbed a brilliant ball over the Miami backline after Mukhtar times it to perfection, but Mukhtar still had loads to do once he chested the ball down. With a defender on his hip, he lost him with just a drop of a shoulder and squared the ball to Nashville’s Fafa Picault who tapped it home for his 3rd goal of the season and Mukhtar collected his sixth assist of the year.
I was quite surprised with how Inter Miami started the match and even more surprised with how they started the second half. Before fans even got back into their seats from getting popcorn at Geodis Park, Nashville had another major chance in the 49th minute and they made Miami pay for it. After an initial cross was headed clear, Nashville’s Shaq Moore swung in a cross and it was the newly acquired defender for Nashville SC, Lukas MacNaughton, who headed home his first Nashville SC goal. All the game planning and tactics made by Inter Miami’s Head Coach, Phil Neville, was thrown out the window. Miami would go onto score a late goal with the last kick of the game in stoppage time after a mistake from Joe Willis. Although no clean sheet tonight for Nashville SC, it was only their eighth goal conceded which is tied for best in the league.
With all the attacking success recently, what has to be applauded is that even though Nashville SC has been without Zimmerman for a third straight match, they don’t look any less secure at the back. That reason starts with the goal scorer, MacNaughton, who has replaced Zimmerman since his injury. For a player like Zimmerman, who five months ago was starting in the World Cup for the United States, this says a lot about the performance of MacNaughton to this point.
Written by: Patton Cook / Nashville SC Columnist