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Nashville SC game reports Archives for 2023-05

A game truly of two halves sees Nashville SC defeat the Columbus Crew 3-1

After a sluggish first half, Nashville SC turned up the intensity and had a three goal second half. Two out of the three goals came from corners which continued to add to the impressive resumé Nashville has when it comes to scoring from setpieces. Hany Mukhtar added yet another goal and assist to his tally tonight which makes him league leading in combined goals and assists.


            The night certainly didn’t start how Nashville SC Manager, Gary Smith, would have liked with a second minute goal from Columbus Crew’s Yaw Yeboah. Although being scored on in the early stages of a match doesn’t happen very often, teams are very susceptible to conceding early chances and Nashville was punished by Columbus’ early chance. When Smith looks back at the film, he will not like the urgency of some of his defenders not stepping to Yeboah and making the shot a bit harder than what it turned out to be. Make no mistake, Yeboah’s goal was not easy by any means he still had a to do quite the spectacular to beat Joe Willis who has only been scored on 10 times which is tied for league best.


            Nashville SC went into the locker room after the first 45 minutes down 1-0 at home, which this season had never happened. They have of course lost at home (FC Cincinatti back in March), but it was uncharted territory for Nashville SC and they responded. In the 57th min off of a corner Nashville’s Fafa Picault of all people found himself with a great opportunity inside the box to tie the game at one a piece and with the slightest of touches he did just that. The main reason the goal came in my opinion was the fact that Columbus Crew’s goalkeeper Patrick Schulte ended up in the back of his own net and had zero chance of stopping any shot that ended up on target.

            Nashville SC wasn’t done in the second half as they would score the all-important goal that put them ahead of the Columbus Crew, which came from yet another corner. This time Daniel Lovitz swung in a cross and Nashville’s Teal Bunbury rose in the air and headed the ball straight down past Schulte the goalkeeper. Frankly it was a goal that Nashville SC deserved as for the entirety of the second 45 minutes the home side dominated. The credit for me has to go to Smith who made the changes that brought on Randall Leal & Jacob Shaffelburg. Those two changes just seemed to bring that spark that Nashville needed to take the lead and complete the comeback. To put the final nail in the coffin for Nashville SC, Hany Mukhtar got himself on the score sheet after an MVP type run in the final seconds of the match. Mukhtar who collected the ball in the corner of the box put on a couple of moves and froze the Columbus defender just long enough so he could smash the ball into the roof of the net to make it 3-1.


            Nashville will ring in the month of June with two road trips to FC Dallas next weekend and then follow it up going up North as they will square off against Toronto FC on June 10th. A possible reunion for the ex-Nashville SC striker CJ Sapong who was traded at the deadline for now Nashville SC defender Lukas MacNaughton.


Patton Cook / WNSR Nashville SC Columnist 




Nashville SC continues their red hot form with a 2-1 win against Inter Miami

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 


Nashville SC's depth propels them to the Round of 16 in the US Open Cup

Nashville SC did what was needed to advance in the US Open Cup after goals from Fafa Picault & Alex Muyl in the second half for a 2-0 win against FC Dallas. Wednesday night’s win was executed in true Nashville SC manager, Gary Smith fashion. His style being to provide very few chances to the opposition and when his side is given the opportunity to threaten, they take full advantage.


 With Wednesday night's game being the fourth game within two weeks, and with another game on the horizon in less than three days, Smith was always going to have to rotate a portion of the side. The question was who of his traditional “Starting XI” would he risk? The answer to that was not many at all. Smith would only ending up going with one player that has gotten consistent minutes for him over the past few weeks, and that was the goal scorer, Fafa Picault. There were however a few names that could possibly return to the starting XI in the near future who have recently returned from injury: Nashville’s Randall Leal and Sean Davis. It was nice to see Leal return to the lineup for Nashville after being seen go off injured after the season opener back in late February. For Sean, he had been out injured for a few matches now, but got much needed match fitness Wednesday night against Dallas. Nashville SC’s Hany Mukhtar would make the matchday squad against FC Dallas, but was only to be used in the scenario of Nashville needing a goal late. With his team up 2-0 late in the second half, his services were not required.


 FC Dallas would go with a slightly different approach in terms of the lineup as they went strong from the beginning hoping to find that first goal early, but it ultimately never came in the entirety of the 90 min. FC Dallas’ Jesus Ferreira, who in different spurts has been the USMNT starting striker, got the start tonight and it must be said Nashville’s centre-backs Lukas MacNaughton & Josh Bauer did a tremendous job not allowing Ferreira to get a single shot on target in the entire match.


 Nashville didn’t control the bulk of the possession like they did this past Saturday against Chicago. However, very similarly to the game from the weekend it never did feel like Dallas was going to get one goal much less two after Alex Muyl’s thunder strike that doubled Nashville’s lead. It seems as though the defensive side of the game that let Nashville down numerous times last season with just silly errors have been corrected by Smith and the coaching staff


 With the win against FC Dallas, Nashville SC will look forward to the Round of 16 draw that will take place Thurday, May 10th at 2 PM. As things stand only one non-MLS team remains in the Round of 16 (Birmingham).


Patton Cook / WNSR - Nashville SC Columnist 



MVP candidate Hany Mukhtar puts on a show as his three goals defeat the Chicago Fire 3-0

Nashville’s Hany Mukhtar scored his third hat-trick in NSC colors as Nashville went on to win 3-0 against the Chicago Fire. Nashville SC dominated this game from start to finish as they continued their hot streak of matches in the months of April and May.


Nashville goalkeeper, Joe Willis, collects his league-tying sixth clean sheet of the season. Tonight he can thank the defenders in front of him as he was only faced with five shots compared to Nashville’s 30.


Head Coach, Gary Smith, made a few changes to Saturday night’s lineup, which headlined centre-back, Walker Zimmerman, being completely absent from the lineup. This decision was probably made a bit easier now that Nashville has traded for Canadian centre-back, Lukas MacNaughton. MacNaugton made his debut since being traded by Toronto FC which saw former Nashville SC striker, CJ Sapong, going up north. Smith revealed after the match that Zimmerman experienced some soreness after training on Friday and wasn’t able to play tonight. I don’t expect Zimmerman to be featured Wednesday night either which would give the captain much-needed rest after the busy month of April which featured some USMNT caps as well as starts for the “Boys in Gold”.


Nashville SC started the game in the first half with much control and domination which hasn’t been unfamiliar in the six-match unbeaten run that they were on coming into the match. Nashville controlled the match by having nearly 60% of the possession.


It wasn’t a question of if that big chance was coming for Nashville, but rather when. That chance came in the 45th min after Dax McCarty was shoved in the back inside the box and drew the penalty. After that, everyone in the stadium knew who was getting the ball, and that was Hany Mukhtar who received the captain's armband for the second time in his NSC career. Mukhtar stepped up and rifled home his fourth goal of the season.


You obviously never want to give goals up in this league, but giving one up and quite cheaply like Chicago did can completely change the complexion of the game, and spoiler: that’s exactly what happened.


Nashville came out of the second half like they got the halftime speech of a lifetime from Smith. With numerous chances to double their lead, it looked like they just weren’t going to be able to put the final touches on this match.


That was until Jacob Shaffelburg who got his first start in nearly a month showed one of the better bursts of pace you are going to see. Shaffelburg picked the ball up about 20 yards before he got into Chicago’s side of the pitch and sprinted with the ball about 50-60 yards before he was taken down by Chicago defender, Kendall Burks. This granted Mukhtar the opportunity to grab his brace and get his 10th goal involvement (five goals and five assists), which he calmly did.


 Although Mukhtar was causing problems for Chicago all night long, to me it seemed the most effective when he was moved up front after Teal Bunbury was subbed off. This is something Smith has started doing towards the end of games when counter-attacks seem to be more prevalent. This allows Mukhtar to go up against centre-backs who a lot of times are on an island. The centre-backs in Major League Soccer aren’t sure whether to defend Mukhtar by getting close or by backing off, and you see it week in and week out. That is of course when Hany grabbed his third and final goal after an initial shot from Nashville’s Fafa Picault, the ball fell right into the path of Nashville’s star player who knocked it home to seal all three points.


With the 3-0 win tonight, Nashville SC extended their unbeaten run to seven and continues to keep up pace with the leaders in the Eastern Conference as they are now at 21 pts (New England and Cincinnati both on 24).


Nashville SC has two games this week, one being at home against FC Dallas on Wednesday in the US Open Cup, and then go on the road for the first time in five matches as they take on DC United.



Patton Cook / WNSR Nashville SC reporter

Patton_Cook on Twitter




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