Down 1-0 at halftime on Saturday night, Nashville SC needed big plays in order to get back into the match.
They found them from defender Dave Romney, who scored the equalizing goal en route to a 2-1 come-from-behind win on the road at Sporting Kansas City.
The back line standout, who is the only Nashville SC outfield player to play every minute of the 2022 season so far, scored his first goal of the season, then delivered a brilliant long throw-in that led to the go-ahead goal from forward CJ Sapong in the 68’ minute.
Romney’s goal came on a perfectly executed set piece routine. Midfielder Hany Mukhtar took his free kick from the right flank short for a streaking winger in Randall Leal, who laid a pinpoint cross to Romney at the back post to head in.
The defender, whose last goal came on Aug. 26, 2020, says he was ready for his scoring opportunity thanks to lots of hard work in practice.
“We work on set pieces pretty often in the days before games,” Romney said. “One of their players was trying to play short and once we knew that, we just needed to drift to the far post. Randall [Leal] couldn’t have played a better ball; it just landed straight on my head, and all I had to do was just not screw it up and thankfully, I didn’t.”
Romney’s contribution to the go-ahead goal won’t show up on the stat sheet, but it was just as important as an assist. He sent a towering throw-in towards the 18-yard box, which caused a chaotic sequence that eventually saw the ball fall to Sapong for the shot and score.
The long throw has been a staple of Romney’s contributions to the team in the last two seasons. He provided a long throw assist for Robert Castellanos’ goal at Toronto FC in August 2021, and nearly set up another goal with a long throw sequence this March against FC Dallas that was waved off by the side judge’s offside flag.
Romney says his long throws are a complement to an already-potent attack from Sapong, Leal and Mukhtar.
“Just any way we can kind of create chaos,” he said. “It’s not like we’re playing beautiful soccer when I'm going up there to throw the ball in, but sometimes you get lucky. That’s happened against us on set pieces and sometimes we get lucky. So tonight, it was nice to kind of score on two set pieces. We’ve created a bunch of other chances we weren't as fortunate enough to score on, but I think we actually kept possession pretty well. We created a lot of chances; our attacking trio did really well. We just happened to score on two set pieces, but I think they did really well, and they created a lot of chances.”
With the win, Nashville SC earned back-to-back road wins for the first time since September 2021. The team sits on 10 points in the standings through six matches in 2022, all of which have come on the road. That puts the Boys in Gold three points off first place in the Western Conference, where LAFC currently stands with 13 points.
Head Coach Gary Smith spoke highly of his team’s performance against a perennial Western Conference contender.
"I honestly thought that this was one of our best away performances,” Smith said. “We get a come-from-behind victory in a very difficult stadium against a good side that we know are going to be in and around the playoffs. When you can come away and beat those teams, it does an awful lot for the group’s belief and spirit, which is already in a wonderful place.”
Nashville SC’s road trip rolls into California for a match against the San Jose Earthquakes this Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CT on Univision, TUDN and live streamed on Twitter.