Nashville SC notebook: Putting the Louisville City loss behind, with a chance at history this weekend

Nashville SC’s opening weekend in the United Soccer League could have been better, but it also could have been worse.

A 2-0 loss to defending champions Louisville City FC on less than ideal pitch conditions is a tough pill to swallow, but it’s not the end of the world.

Luke Spencer scored in 56th minute on a header, and Niall McCabe doubled the tally in the 66th minute off a deflected save from Matt Pickens trying to stop a low cross. The team will be looking over the tape of the game later, and assess what needs to be done.

“The conclusion is a really simplistic one,” said Nashville SC coach Gary Smith, who breifly spoke with the media Monday morning.

“I though we competed for large portions of the game very well. The big difference we can imagine, is that Louisville are a very good side. They’ve managed that field, and have won a championship, and are very comfortable in the way they play there. I think, at vital moments, they were able to make it count.”

A couple of takeaways from Saturday’s game:

-Matt Picken was awesome. The experienced goalie knew exactly when to come out for crosses and when to hold his ground when those dangerous balls were played into the area. To the surprise of no one, he’s going to be  a big reason why Nashville SC are competitive in games.

-The forward play from Nashville SC has to be able to test the opposing keeper. Now, a lot of this might have to do with the tight dimensions of Louisville’s pitch, but there weren’t a lot of really creative chances from the front line. For my money, Kosuke Kimura was the best player on offense for Nashville. He made the Louisville defenders on the flank fairly uncomfortable at times with his quickness and ability to play lurking crosses. Other than him, Nashville was fairly limited on offense, only recording two shots on target.

-With such a good preseason under his belt, It really surprised me when Alan Winn was not chosen to come off the bench in order to try and get something going on the offensive side. His speed and energy off the bench might have caused panic in Louisville’s defense in a game where Nashville was already lacking any explosive play.

Looking forward to Pittsburgh: The Riverhounds will now come to town to face Nashville SC in Music City’s home opener at Nissan Stadium. Despite only two seasons with an above .500 record in the past decade in various USL leagues, Pittsburgh is not a team Nashville SC cannot overlook.

“(There’s been) a lot of changes on the staff, as they have began to piece together their roster for this year,” said Smith.

Pittsburgh’s current coach, Bob Lilley, is beginning his first season with the Riverhounds after spending the past couple of years with the Rochester Rhinos in two different stints (2009-2011, 2014-2017). The Riverhounds did not play in a USL match during the opening weekend, but scrimmaged Villanova instead. They lost that scrimmage 1-0.

Nashville inching close to possible record USL crowd: Of course, the big news leading up to this week is if Nashville SC will break the USL’s inaugural home opener attendance record at 20,231. According to the club, around 16,000 tickets have already been sold for the match, which will take place at Nissan Stadium.

“There’s already a wonderful basis and foundational level for tickets sold. I’m sure this week, leading into the game, it’s going to switch a lot of the local fan base and supporters within the city towards the event,” said Smith.

“There’s a fabulous chance that we’re not only going to have a great crowd, but we’re going to be close to that number. Nevertheless, even if it doesn’t, I’m sure we’ll have tremendous support. For a side that’s going to be playing their first game at home, we’re going to need that.”

You can purchase tickets to Nashville SC’s home opener here.

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