Nashville SC notebook: Looking at the positives in a loss

Nashville SC’s two-game winning streak, and three game streak of collecting points, was snapped Saturday against Indy Eleven, losing 2-1 at Lucas Oil Stadium. But despite the loss, there’s a lot of positives Nashville and its fans can take from this game.

“You’ve got to look at the positives. We built momentum when we were two goals down. To get a goal at the end of the first half, it was a positive thing going into the second half, we just didn’t put away the second chance or third chance,” said Nashville SC midfielder and captain Michael Reed.

A tale of two halves: Soony Saad had a brace for Indy in the first 34 minutes that ultimately helped Indy Eleven pull out the victory, but Nashville could have just as easily tied the game in the second half after Ropapa Mensah’s goal right before the break.

Nashville had more total shots, headed shots, and shots inside the box during the second half. Perhaps a lot of that had to do with Indy deciding to sit back and absorb pressure, but it’s still reassuring that Nashville will press the issue in an aggressive manner and get good opportunities when down.

“No doubt about it they were better than us in the first period. It’s sometimes difficult to
evaluate why,” said Nashville SC coach Gary Smith.

“There were numerous occasions where the ball was lost to cheaply. I think the players found the surface more challenging to contend with than they expected and it took some time to adapt. And then you throw into that mix the very good strike for [Indy’s] second goal…We actually finished in great fashion. Scored, hit the woodwork, looked bright. We
probably didn’t want the half to end. We looked on the front foot, back in the game, and the whistle blows.”

Positive midfield possession: The Nashville midfield came out of this game looking fairly sharp as far as possession and passing accuracy goes. Both Michael Reed (90.5) and Bolu Akinyode (85) completed over 80 percent of their passes. A good sign for those who play around them that both are able to make the right connections and put teammates in the final third to make an impact on goal. Although Lebo Moloto played more as a forward than he did as a midfielder, it’s worth noting that he also completed 88 percent of his passes as well.

It’s starting to look like the Akinyode-Reed combination is the one that will take Nashville to the next level and keep them in the hunt for an Eastern Conference playoff spot. Both know how to distribute the ball to the forwards and control the middle of the park to disrupt opposition plays.

Quick Penn preview: Nashville now turns its attention to a trip to Harrisburg, Pa. to face Penn FC. Formerly the Harrisburg Islanders, the club was been rebranded during the offseason. They finished 11th in the Eastern Conference last season, with current Nashville SC goalscorer Ropapa Mensah leading the way in team goals scored with seven.

Penn FC currently sits in 14th place in the Eastern Conference through three games, losing the first game of the season with Charleston Battery 1-0. They tied their next two games against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (0-0) and Atlanta United 2 (1-1).

Roadies Walk Hard: With no game this weekend, The Nashville Roadies are hosting a Walk for Wishes Event Saturday at Bicentennial Mall State Park benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This family-friendly event will see the Roadies singing and marching with a bunch of Wish Kids from around the area. There will also be opportunities to donate to Make-A-Wish. More details can be found here.

Nashville SC notebook: Boys in Gold looking for third-straight win

Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith says he’s never heard of St. Elmo’s Steakhouse in Indianapolis.

But while his culinary knowledge of the Hoosier state is lacking (not that there’s much of culinary scene there though, so it’s understandable), he has done his extensive research on his side’s next opposition, Indy Eleven.

“I am keeping an open mind as to what we will walk in to,” said Smith regarding how he’s preparing for the match.

“We will train on their match field on Friday and our staff will be looking forward to seeing what the field is like. Indoors, turf, those things all effect the game. We are keeping an open mind. What I do know is that Indy is a team in a similar position to us with a group of new players, and a new coach. They have a good strong core to that team, with McInerney and Pasher being dangerous.”

Opponent overview: Like Nashville, Indy Eleven is in its first season of the USL. Founded in 2013, the club has spent its first couple of years in the NASL. The Club finished second in the league in 2016, while also finishing first in average attendance in three of the four years. The high attendance has followed the Club to the USL, as it drew 17,000 fans to Lucas Oil Stadium in its first home game.

Indy’s defense has been the story of their season so far. Also like Nashville, it’s been tough for opposing teams to put any goals past them, allowing only one goal in three contests.

“We do see this match as more than likely being a tight one,” said Nashville SC goalkeeper Matt Pickens.

“Much of that has to do with being early in the season and also mirroring each other in that we are a new club playing together for only a couple of months and them having a new head coach with an overwhelming majority of new players. In that regard, I don’t envision the game being that stretched with the scoreline.”

Indy Eleven has beaten North Carolina FC and the Richmond Kickers this year, both by a score of 1-0. Its loss came against FC Cincinnati, also by the score of 1-0.

Other notes:

-Some Nashville SC players made some waves in the USL for their performances this week. Alan Winn was named to the USL team of the week. His goal against Charlotte was also named goal of the week. Pickens was nominated for USL save of the week.

-The Club is 300 season tickets away from breaking the inaugural season ticket record.

-For those streaming, the game will be on the ESPN+ streaming service as a part of the new USL streaming contract. Kickoff is slated for 11 a.m. Central, and the game can be watched locally on MyTV30.

Prediction: 1-0 Nashville Last week, I was wrong on my prediction and overestimated Charlotte. I think Nashville is starting to figure things out in the final third. Indy’s defense will be their toughest test thus far in the season, so I could also see this game ending as a 0-0 draw.

Nashville SC placed in USL’s Eastern Conference, opens up possible new rivalries

Nashville SC now has an idea of who the majority of their conference opponents might be for the upcoming 2018 USL season.

The league announced Friday which conferences the 33 teams will be placed in for this season and the foreseeable future.

Nashville SC is one of four new teams, along with ATL UTD 2, Indy Eleven, and North Carolina FC to join the Eastern Conference. Saint Louis FC has been moved to the Western Conference.

Conf_Alignment-Web_Article_large

With Nashville SC heading to the Eastern Conference, it opens up a plethora of new rivalries that could spring up as the season progresses. Let’s take a look at some of them.

FC Cincinnati: The matches between these two moving forward have the potential to be the most combustable. There’s still some bitterness from some of the FC Cincinnati faithful that Nashville was chosen as a city for an MLS expansion before them. There’s no doubt that the Cincy fans bring lots of passion and excitment, plus it’s not a far trip to make for either club. We could even see this rivalry moving forward if Cincinnati is awarded an MLS bid as well.

ATL UTD 2: Nashville will get their first taste of the Atlanta fans in a couple of weeks, when the MLS side comes to visit for the Feb 10 exibition match. Like Cincinnati, this too is not a far travel for either club. In fact, this rivalry could mean more, as it’ll be a battle to determine who is the king of soccer in the south.

Louisville City FC:  This will be Nashville SC’s shortest trip each year until Memphis arrives. Until then, the I-65 route to last year’s USL champions will certainly be one both support groups will make in droves.

Indy Eleven: Indianapolis will be making their USL debut as well, so they will also be out to prove that they can hang with soccer’s best each and every week. There’s already an existing rivalry between the two cities in the NFL for the Colts and Titans, so it shouldn’t be too hard to ignite a new one.