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.

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.








Nashville SC acquires first transfer

Nashville SC continues to make history even before playing their first game in the USL.

The Club announced Wednesday that it has completed its first transfer, acquiring former San Antonio FC midfielder and captain Michael Reed. His transfer fee has not been announced yet.

For those new to the transfer rule, a transfer occurs when a club pays a certain amount to acquire the services of a player who currently plays on another club who is still under contract. The contract is then picked up by the club who obtains the new player after paying a transfer fee.

Reed brings some valuable experience to an upstart midfield that, prior to his signing, only had four players for that position on the Nashville SC roster. He was a constant staple for San Antonio FC, appearing in 27 games and starting in 24 as captain in 2017.

Reed was also a pivotal part in helping guide San Antonio FC to a second place finish in the Western Conference, and an appearance in the quarterfinals of the USL cup. He tallied five goals and four assists during his two years in South Texas.

Luckily for Reed, he’s coming into a situation where there are a lot of familiar faces around him. Reed played for Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith in 2015 as a member of the Atlanta Silverbacks of the NASL, where he was teammates with midfielder Josh Hughes, defender Kosuke Kimura, and keeper C.J. Cochran. He also played at Minnesota United with recent signing Justin Davis.

Reed will certainly look to be one of the favorites to land a starting gig in the midfield.