On one of the biggest nights in Nashville SC’s young history defeating Monterrey 2-0 after crucial goals from Sam Surridge and Fafa Picault. They now are four days away from certainly playing the biggest match in their history as Lionel Messi and Inter Miami await them in the Leagues Cup Final on Saturday night.
Nashville certainly believed they had done enough to be ahead in the match heading into the locker room but it stayed 0-0. Most of that belief came from a moment of brilliance from Nashville SC’s Hany Mukhtar who curled a shot just inside the post for what looked like the first goal of the match in the 12th minute. That goal was deemed offside because of Nashville SC’s Alex Muyl who in the eyes of the referee was interfering with the goalkeeper’s view of the ball while in an offside position. While Muyl was in an offside position once Mukhtar strikes the ball it was tough from any of the angles given in slo-mo or in real time there was any clear and obvious error (which is the criteria).
But just how Nashville SC manager will demand from his team they dig in and get the result at any costs necessary. Nashville SC’s Sam Surridge once again gets on the scoresheet for the match-winning goal in the 67th minute. It was fitting that Nashville’s three most important players were integral in this happening, that being Walker Zimmerman, Hany Mukhtar, and new signing Surridge. Zimmerman is the man who won the ball back with a strong aerial dual in the midfield, Mukhtar grabs the assist by playing the perfect ball, and Surridge as east as you’d like passes it into the bottom corner.
Once the goal went in for Nashville SC with over 20 minutes to go including stoppage time the feeling was that Monterrey were to have plenty of chances to get back into the match and boy did they ever. For what seemed like an eternity for those final 20 minutes Nashville defenders, were defending for their lives looking to keep the clean sheet. Major credit must go to two individuals from that group and that is Zimmerman and Elliot Pannico. For Zimmerman, it was no surprise just how dominant he was by seemingly not allowing a single player past him in any 1v1 scenario. However, it was maybe the biggest performance of Pannico’s life for a player who has yet to make an impact in MLS play he has certainly found his form in this Leagues Cup tournament. To finally relieve the pressure late in stoppage time Nashville SC’s Fafa Picault goes on a second wind type of run getting past two Monteray players and lifting it into the roof of the net securing the 2-0 victory thus advancing them to the Final.
Saturday night’s match can’t be understated just how massive it will be for the game of soccer in this city. The best player to ever touch a soccer ball playing in a final at Geodis Park. Words I certainly never imagined I would write down but here we are…
Patton Cook / WNSR Columnist
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