Nashville SC hands Louisville its second-straight loss

Nashville SC sent a message to the USL on Mother’s Day that nothing comes easy at First Tennessee Park.

The Boys in Gold improved their home record to 2-0-1 with an impressive 2- 0 win against Louisville City FC. It’s Louisville second-straight loss after going unbeaten in its first six games.

It was Lebo Moloto who got Nashville SC on the board first in the 39th minute. Ropapa Mensah collected a long ball and beat a defender on the edge of the left side of the 18. He passed a low ball on the ground that both Matt LaGrassa and Moloto had their eye on, but it was Moloto who got the first-time shot off that beat the Louisville keeper. It’s LaGrassa’s first goal this season.

The second half started very chippy for both sides. Bradley Bourgeois made a run into the box that resulted in a collision with Greg Ranjitsingh as he was leaping up to collect a cross. Ranjitsingh’s back smacked up against the post from the collision, resulting in Bourgeois to receive a yellow card.

Bourgeois was one of three Nashville SC players to receive a booking this match. Liam Doyle and Taylor Washington were also marked down in the referee’s handbook.

As the match progressed, Nashville decided to lay back and absorb pressure, continuing to attack at times when needed.

Lebo Moloto turned in a brace and put the game on ice when he headed in Michael Reed’s cross from the left side of the box in the 84th minute. It’s the first time this season that a Nashville SC player has scored twice in a single game.

Quotes:

Nashville SC coach Gary Smith:

“For the first today, I think you’ve seen, against one of the top sides and under very difficult conditions, some character in this group. We saw this as a bit of a benchmark.  We’ve endured one or two difficulties. We have certainly not been at our best, but I do believe we’ll continue to improve. But, we might have just created a serious rivalry. They’re a top-side, and I’m absolutely delighted that we beat them.”

Lebo Moloto:

“I feel like I think we’ve come a long way. Had a couple of conversation with Michael Reed this week and one of the things that he said was ‘hey, we’re not a new team anymore.’ So, I think everyone’s realized that we’re not a new team. We’re a team that’s here to challenge for the number one spot, you know? I think we’ve come a long way from that first game to where we are today.”

Other notes:

-Matt Pickens finishes the game with his fifth shutout of the season, tying him with two other players in the USL for the most so far this season.

-The official attendance was announced as 8,610.

-Nashville’s defense was able to bottle up Louisville well in the first half, holding them to only one shot on target in the first half, and four the entire game.

-The win puts Nashville in eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings, with 12 points on the year.

Nashville SC now turns it’s attention to the local Nashville derby, where it’ll face Inter Nashville in the U.S. Open Cup Wednesday at Vanderbilt Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.

Nashville SC Notebook: Tell the world they’re coming home

At long last, Nashville SC is returning home to First Tennessee Park after an extensive road trip.

giphy1

The Boys in Gold are back home this Mother’s Day to take on a familiar foe in Louisville City FC. Last time these two met, it was Nashville’s first ever game in the USL regular season, losing to the defending champs 2-0.

But things are different now. Nashville has a bit of experience under its belt through the trials and tribulations experienced through this three-game road stint.

The opponent: Louisville City has been on an absolute tear in this early season. Before its first loss of the season last week against Indy Eleven, the defending USL champions had won five of their first six games. The only blemish during that stretch was a 1-1 draw against Atlanta United 2. They’re currently one point behind Eastern Conference leaders FC Cincinnati, and boost one of the top goal scorers in the league so far in Cameron Lancaster (four goals).

What does Nashville need to do? Continuous pressure on goal would be a great way for Nashville to come away with points and possibly hand Louisville its second-consecutive loss. Ropapa Mensah’s goal last week against New York Red Bulls II came because the forwards made the Red Bulls defense make a mistake from the pressure exerted on them. If Nashville is relentless in pursuing the ball while Louisville tries to prepare an attack from the back line, good things can and will happen.

Here’s an obvious one, but Matt Pickens must continue to do Matt Pickens things. He’s currently tied with four other goalkeepers for the second most shutouts this season with four, and has been one of the reasons Nashville has picked up points in five of its last six contests. He’ll once again need to be at his best between the posts in order to ward off this effective Louisville offense which has recorded 115 shots so far.

Prediction: 1-1 Draw

Nashville is a different team since the first meeting about two months ago, and the home atmosphere has already shown how it can be a factor for visiting teams. However, Louisville will still have a sour taste in its mouth from dropping its first game of the season. I expect a competitive back-and-forth between these two, with both sides just missing out on collecting all three points.

Other notes

El Nashico: Nashville’s first local derby will take place this Wednesday at Vanderbilt Stadium when Nashville SC faces NPSL side Inter Nashville. Inter beat Charlotte Eagles 6-1 in its first round matchup, and now the game is drawing plenty of attention from Middle Tennessee soccer fanatics.

Turn up, the radio: Nashville SC and Nashville’s ESPN radio affiliate The Game have announced a partnership, where 94.9 will have an English broadcast for at least 20 games. The first broadcast will be this Sunday, and will include a pre and postgame match. The announcement was made Thursday morning during 102.5 The Game’s morning show, Morning Drive.

“We are thrilled to announce our partnership with Nashville SC,” said Cromwell Radio market manager Jana Hampton in a press release.

“As a locally owned radio group, we are focused on serving the community where we live and work and we strive to give listeners Nashville’s Best Sports Talk
each day. Aligning with Nashville SC helps us deliver on those objectives. It’s a great fit.”

Roadies bringing the noise at special event: The Roadies support group will be bringing the noise for two days in a row this weekend. In addition to their normal march and support to First Tennessee Park Saturday, the group will also be out and about Saturday to support Soccer for the Nations. Soccer for the Nations is a support group that gives refugee children a chance to come together and play the beautiful game.

Additional information can be found on the group’s Facebook page event here.

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.

Gary Smith sends message to NSC fans before USL opener

Nashville SC coach Gary Smith admits he has no idea how tomorrow’s USL season opener against reigning league champions Louisville City FC will go. He’s not even sure how the entire campaign will pan out.

One thing he is sure of though, is that the supporters and fans of Nashville SC can be proud of the team that will go out there each and every week to give it their all.

“Where we’ll be, what position, how many games we win or lose, I don’t know the answers to that. There will be a lot of factors that determine that, in every team.  There’s all of sorts of factors that are out of my control. What I can tell the fans is that this is a team they can be proud of, be excited to watch, and they can look forward to every home game,” said Smith.

There’s been a certain buzz in the air around practice this week. The players and coaches can feel it, as they approach uncharted territory the weekend where points can either be picked up or dropped.

“It’s one of those things where, the weeks have gone quick. You want them to go quick when you have three points on the line,” said defender Liam Doyle.

“This Saturday, it starts for real. I think we’ve been ready for that for awhile.”

Smith, of course, is no stranger to opening season weekends.

Even with a brand new team, his philosophies and how he approaches a new season remain true.

“The fact that we are a brand new group has brought up one or two little issues I haven’t encountered. The reality is, during the preseason, you’re building a good, physical foundation, and preparing the lads for a long season,” said Smith.

“You’re also trying to get them into some sort of form and confidence about their play. With regards to the three qualities I’ve just mentioned, we’re in a good place. The challenge for every team is, can you get into a rythmn quickly? But, every team that’s kicking off this weekend will feel the exact same way. We’ve prepared well, and done as much as we can.”

Match preview: As mentioned, Louisville City are the defending USL champions from last season with 62 points in the regular season, and look to be one of the favorites again this year. The club returns 10 of last year’s 11 starters, including captain Paolo DelPiccolo, keeper Greg Ranjitsingh, defender Kyle Smith and striker George Davis IV.

“They are a very tough nut to crack. They have some good qualities in that group, and it will be a really tough challenge. If you’re going to do well, in any league, you’ve got to play the best teams at some point. We have one of the stiffest teams in our opening game. We’re ready for that,” said Smith.

615 Prediction: 2-0 Louisville City FC.

This game is a great opening test for the Boys in Gold, but the caliber of opponent who has the silverware in their corner, is hungry for a repeat and looking to get off to a fast start might be too much to handle for them.

Kickoff for the match is slated for 2 p.m. CT. Fans not traveling to Louisville can tune in to MyTV30 to watch the match.

Nashville SC ends preseason with a bang, but now the real journey begins

Well that was fun, wasn’t it?

Nashville SC took a quick trip down I-24 and were able to handle business against Chattanooga FC, winning 3-1 and putting a bow on its preseason.

Here are the highlights from the Nashville goals.

It’s the perfect result for The Boys in Gold to cap off their inaugural preseason, even if the result means little to nothing.

“It’s always nice to get a win going into the regular season,” said midfielder Matt LaGrassa, who scored the first of Nashville SC’s three goals on the evening.

“You know, obviously we will be facing opponents coming up, that on paper will be better than Chattanooga. Hopefully, we can take the win and carry the momentum forward.”

There’s no denying that since the rainy afternoon at First Tennessee Park against Atlanta United, Nashville SC has improved drastically. The chemistry is starting to form, and Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith is figuring out who plays best in what position in his formation.

This latest match saw a mix of different players who have been deemed “first” and “second” teamers in the starting 11, with Tucker Hume and Ropapa Mensah as the two forwards. The combination seemed to pay dividends, as both are strong-bodied players that can outmuscle most defenders and win long balls in the air.

We also saw preseason wonderkid Alan Winn make the move to attacking center midfield, after seeing lots of time up top. That move might be a foreshadowing of who Smith really trusts in orchestrating the offense when the ball makes its way towards that part of the pitch.

But now its time to find out what we’ve all been waiting for. How will this team do in its first regular season campaign? There will be no better way to figuring out that question than with an opener against defending USL champions Louisville City FC.

Of course, one match at the beginning of the year won’t determine everything, as Smith points out. The term, “baptism by fire,” certainly does come into play for the upcoming match.

“If we are going to have a test, a bit of a benchmark, then there is none better than Louisville,” said Smith.

“The season can’t be won or lost next weekend. We have fared well in the games leading up to next weekend. I see no reason why the group I have in that locker room will not turn up and perform. Everybody will be frothing at the mouth waiting for it, and it’s been a long time coming.”

 

 

What’s next for Nashville SC in the coming weeks?

Now that Nashville SC has basically completed the process of contrusting its roster for the foreseeable future, it’s time to look at what lies ahead for the club in the coming weeks before the exibition game against Atlanta United Feb 10 and the USL season opener March 17 at Louisville City FC.

The roster count currently stands at 23, with two goalies, eight defenders, nine midfielders, and four forwards. The maximum number of players a team can have on a roster in the USL is 30, but it seems like the club will stay around 23.

Nashville SC now has two weeks to prepare for it’s first game against against Atlanta United. The club announced this morning that it has partnered with Ensworth High School and will use the school’s facilities for training.

“We are thrilled to be able to partner with the Nashville Soccer Club to host its new training facility at Ensworth,” said Ensworth Head of School David Braemer in a press release.

“Having a professional soccer team in Nashville is a tremendous asset to our city, and we are excited to play a role in supporting the team.”

The training grounds at Ensworth will certainly allow Nashville SC to put in some quality practices as the team looks to build chemistry with one another.

It’s still unclear about what Nashville SC’s starting lineup will look like come Feb 10, but a few of the more experienced players, such as Matt Pickens, Justin Davis, and Michael Reed, will probably get the nod in whatever formation is rolled out that day.

“I needed a core of (experienced) players, and most coaches feel a similar way,” said Smith

“If you’ve worked with individuals before, and you believe in those individuals that are capable of fulfilling what you’re asking of them in a system, then they fit the mold.”

Smith also expressed at Saturday’s open tryouts when he spoke to the media the challenge he faces when building the right system that will fit his squad. He does think, however, that if the team can get through the tough opening road stretch of the USL season, then they’ll be set up for possible success moving forward.

“For the group now,  starting off well and having a three or four game opening  where we can put some points on the board, and add to what I believe will be a productive opening and coming together of players. They have to build a repore, a system that suits them. That’s not easy to do with a brand new group,” said Smith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 away games Nashville SC fans should try to make a road trip for

It’s finally here. The United Soccer League released the 2018 season schedule Friday after weeks and weeks of eager anticipation.

For Nashville SC, their first season in the USL will certainly be filled with trials and tribulations. The club will play 34 games, split evenly at 17 home and 17 away, and they will all be against Eastern conference opponents.

The chance to make an impact at First Tennessee Park at home for fans is something the Nashville faithful will be willing to embrace. However, going on the road into hostile enemy territories is also an opportunity for fans to show they have a strong voice, and to silence the doubters that Nashville is weak in the fan department.

So what are some road games Nashville SC fans should circle on the calender and try to make an effort to plan a road trip? Here are five that really stand out.

at Louisville City FC, March 17: There’s zero doubt that support for this game will be strong for Nashville SC, considering the proximity of these two cities. The defending USL champions is the perfect match for Nashville SC to make a statement and show that it means business.

at New York Red Bulls II, May 6: This game, along with the two trips to Canada, will easily be one of the furthest games Nashville SC will have to travel. Even though the game is played in Harrison, New Jersey, fans should still try to make the trip up. Manhattan is only a 30-minute train ride from where the game will be played, and any opportunity to explore the city that never sleeps in between the game is something the Nashville faithful should try to take advantage of.

at Charleston Battery, May 26: The city of Charleston is a top tourist destination for a reason. The port town offers southern charm in its architecture and culture few can match, and don’t even get me started on the shrimp and grits. If you can make a conscious effort, this the one trip I’d highly recommend.

at Tampa Bay Rowdies, June 9: The Rowdies have such an engraved history in American soccer, so a trip down to Florida to see the boys in gold take them on would be a trip worth remembering. Just be sure to pack some sunscreen.

at FC Cincinnati, August 4: By this point in the season, this will be the third meeting between these two clubs, with the March 3 preseason game and the July 7 home match for Nashville. FC Cincinnati fans seems to be some of the catalysts driving the “Nashville doesn’t even have a fan base” wagon. This will be as good of an opportunity as ever to put that theory to rest when this game could actually mean something down the stretch of the season.