NASHVILLE - Some losses are unlucky. Some losses make you want to burn the tape and forget about it.
Some losses can be learning experiences, and that’s exactly what Head Coach Gary Smith thinks Nashville SC’s 2-1 loss to Sporting KC could be.
A team that has been playing together for less than a season missing key cogs at the forward and midfield positions went up 1-0 on Sporting KC after 45 minutes. Within the first few minutes of the second half, Sporting KC had leveled the match and rookie defender Alistair Johnston was sent off with his second yellow card. A world-class volley by Sporting KC’s Erik Hurtado finished off the win for Sporting late in the second half.
Smith says he is proud of the resolve his team showed, but he hopes his young up-and-coming stars will learn plenty from this result.
“I’m disappointed after being one-nil up ten minutes after halftime,” Smith said. “That will be something the group won’t forget. We’ll learn an awful lot from that. Let’s not forget that this is still a young group, and we’ve gotten used to grinding out results. As far as decisions and experience, Alistair will learn bundles from that rash challenge, and he’ll be much better for it. The group has shown incredible spirit and resolve over the last couple of games. To go down 10 men here against a team that I think we’d all agree has tremendously talented players, I thought they [Nashville] showed great character. I couldn’t ask for any more from the group of individuals, down a man, quickly a goal down, it’s not easy at all. I thought we showed tremendous resolve, and I’m delighted for the way that every single player on the field played.”
Sunday’s match will also be a learning experience for defender Jack Maher, who made his Major League Soccer debut in the second half. Smith says he was delighted with this year’s second overall MLS SuperDraft pick, who has been absorbing knowledge and learning from Walker Zimmerman and Dave Romney, two of the best center-backs in the league this season.
“I thought he was terrific,” Smith said. “We’re looking at certainly over the last half a dozen or more games, one of the best central defensive pairings I believe in the league. It’s always going to be tough for Jack and any of those other guys to try and find their way into that group. With his first 15 minutes or more in the game, I thought Jack showed us some of the qualities and signs that we can look forward to in the future. It’s certainly my job to give him the right opportunity and platform to keep that development going. Jack again is a very focused, hard-working and good professional. I’ve seen all the signs and I believe we’ll see him in the group in the future for this team.”
While Maher says he’ll never forget his first MLS minutes, he also knows that his team wanted more out of their performance and will look to get back on track down the stretch.
“First and foremost, the culture that Gary has created is that everywhere we go we should be expecting to get a result,” Maher said. “Whether that’s a draw or three points, that’s something we expected each and every day. The result, needless to say, is one that didn’t fall our way today. Despite that, getting my debut is something I’ll surely remember for the rest of my life. Hopefully the first of many here for Nashville and hopefully I’m able to wear the gold for years to come.