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Nashville SC game reports Archives for 2023-08

Lionel Messi & Inter Miami beat Nashville SC in a dramatic penalty shootout

In the first-ever Leagues Cup Final it took 11 penalties for each team for a victor to be crowned. Lionel Messi showed just how good he still is with a stunning 1st half-goal and ice-cold penalty kick as he won the Golden Boot & MVP for this Leagues Cup tournament.


            There weren’t many questions on how each time would lineup, especially for Inter Miami. For the entirety of this tournament, Miami has stayed unchanged for the most part. For Nashville, the main question mark heading into Saturday night was how Nashville SC’s manager Gary Smith was going to handle Sam Surridge. Surridge had three goals in three matches all coming off the bench. You want your best players on the pitch and Surridge is certainly one of them but do you fix what has worked thus far? Smith went with Surridge in the starting XI for the first time since his arrival.


Inter Miami got the party started in the 24th minute from who else but Messi. It was a moment of brilliance from the Argentian who gained possession at the top of the box danced past Nashville SC’s Walker Zimmerman and while fading away fires it into the top corner to make it 1-0. Nashville had numbers back and quite frankly did well pushing Messi further and further away from the goal but even when you defend perfectly you can only do so much against the greatest player of all time.


            Nashville SC would head into the locker room at halftime trying to figure out they can climb themselves back into the 1-0 game. Surridge & Hany Mukhtar both weren’t at their vintage selves which made you think would someone else be able to step up and tie the match. One thing Nashville can always rely on are corner kicks & set pieces to give them serious chances against any team they come up against. Which is exactly what happened to Miami. Nashville SC’s corner kick in the 57th minute led to one of the scrappiest goals you will see in the game of soccer. What looked like a game of pinball in the box somehow ended up in the back of the net after Nashville SC’s Fafa Picault would have the final touch. Although both teams had numerous opportunities to score the match-winning goal, penalties were needed to break the deadlock between these two teams after 90+ minutes.


            There aren’t many other words than dramatic to describe the shootout to decide the winner of the Leagues Cup. Only one outfield player from each team missed a penalty after 10 attempts. Which meant both goalkeepers were forced into attempting one each. Inter Miami Drake Callender had no problem blasting his penalty into the roof of the net. Which put all the pressure on Nashville SC’s goalkeeper Elliot Panicco. Panicco had been the hero all tournament long however, his penalty being saved put the Leagues Cup trophy into the hands of Inter Miami.


            For Nashville SC they gave a good account of themselves against an extremely hot team led by the greatest player of all time. It seems like they found themselves offensively and specifically finding the striker they have so coveted since joining Major League Soccer. Although they won’t see the positives now this Leagues Cup run could make all the difference for the 2nd half of MLS league play.


Patton Cook / WNSR Columnist 

Patton_Cook on Twitter 

Nashville SC is awarded a showdown with Lionel Messi after 2-0 win vs Monterrey

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 

Patton_Cook on Twitter 

Nashville SC thrashes Minnesota United 5-0 to advance to the Leagues Cup Semi-Finals

After a red card for Minnesota United’s DJ Taylor in the 34th minute, Nashville SC took advantage of the man advantage with a clinical five-goal display. It seemed like so long ago that Nashville struggled to convert chances, but they certainly didn’t have that issue tonight with five different goal-scorers.


            Many expected that new Nashville SC signing Sam Surridge could possibly get the start on Friday night, however, manager Gary Smith elected to go with Teal Bunbury. Considering the form and the public opinion of the two players this was a tad surprising. However, with the final score and the fact both players got on the scoresheet, it’s yet another correct decision made by Smith.


            All the talk after the match of course is going to be about the most single important event which is the Taylor red card for Minnesota in the 34th minute. For one Nashville SC’s Jacob Shaffelburg deserves a lot of credit for the quick decisive run which forced Taylor to make the decision to either pull down Shaffelburg or give him a free run directly at goal. The contact wasn’t flagrant but the letter of the law for a red card involves denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity and that is certainly what occurred. Once this happened Phil Neville the former Inter Miami manager said on the broadcast how important the next 10 minutes would be for Minnesota to not concede a goal before the halftime break. If Minnesota could withstand the pressure till halftime, it would have put a lot of pressure on Nashville to get the goal before the 90 minutes was up that would lead to penalties. Of course, Nashville goes on and gets the important goal just before the break which broke the game wide open for the remaining four goals in the second half. 


After Friday night’s win they will host Liga MX side Monterey on Tuesday night for a chance to advance to the Final. After each win for Nashville and Inter Miami, the looming possibility of Lionel Messi playing at Geodis Park gains large. I’d be lying if I wasn’t looking ahead at that potential matchup and I wouldn’t be surprised if the players for Nashville SC aren’t either.



Patton Cook / WNSR Columnist 

Patton_Cook on Twitter 



Nashville SC advances to the Leagues Cup Quarterfinals in dramatic fashion vs Club America

In a match that had it all, terrific atmosphere, late second-half goals, VAR, penalty kicks and so much more Nashville SC defeated Club America 6-5 via penalty kicks. On two separate occasions, Nashville looked down and out for the count, once in stoppage time when Club America’s Julian Quinones converted his penalty kick and after Jack Maher’s penalty was saved, only to have it retaken and scored after a VAR check.


There were many questions for Nashville SC’s manager, Gary Smith, and how he would set up after his vintage setup and execution against Cincinnati. He said before the match that he wanted to find the happy medium between his team's style of play versus Cincinnati and Toluca. With Toluca, his team was far too open at the back, but against Cincinnati, they were too defensive. Looking at the result and the fact that Nashville SC advances you’d have to say he got it right tactically. The other big question was in regards to what capacity would the new signing for Nashville SC, Sam Surridge, play in this match. Surridge ended up coming off of the bench and having a dream start to his Nashville SC career.



The first half was a stalemate that didn’t see much action, however, the second half and penalty kicks would make up for it 100x over. Nashville SC’s Walker Zimmerman would get the party started in the 61st minute after his header from a corner kick flew into the back of the net to make it 1-0. Zimmerman had a very cool celebration to signify the arrival of his baby girl who is expected to be born in the coming days. Due to this, it was unknown whether or not Zimmerman would even play tonight. After this, it seemingly looked like it was going to be another masterclass from Gary Smith whose plan seemed to be right on track. However, Club America wasn’t going to go down that easy after a substitute for Club America, Diego Valdes, came on to tie the game 1-1 in the 78th minute. The real drama would start ramping up when a lengthy VAR check went underway at the beginning of stoppage time to look at a possible handball in the box against Nashville SC’s Lukas McNaughton. As time went on and each replay saw the ball clearly strike the hand of McNaughton, it became more likely the call would be reversed, and that is exactly what happened. This would allow Quinones to score his penalty kick in the 94th minute which if you think would be enough to put away Nashville, think again. In the final attack of stoppage time Nashville SC’s Dax McCarty plays a 45-yard pass to Hany Mukhtar who then plays the inch-perfect cross to Nashville’s new striker who heads it home and ties the match at 2-2 which sends the match to penalties.


Smith once again went with Nashville SC’s Elliot Pannico to be the goalkeeper instead of Joe Willis, a move that worked out last time out against Cincy. The biggest moment of the match was when in the midst of Club America’s celebration thinking they had won the match via penalty kicks, yet another VAR check stopped them in their tracks. This time looking at whether or not America’s game-winning penalty save was illegal due to the goalkeeper not staying on the line. The correct call was made giving Maher another try which he buried. After this, you just knew with the momentum that Nashville was going to find a way to grab the victory, and Daniel Lovitz’s penalty did just that.



Patton Cook / WNSR Columnist 

Patton_Cook on Twitter 

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