EVANSVILLE – In Nashville SC’s final preseason match against fellow USL Championship Eastern Conference favorite Indy Eleven, the teams played a 0-0 draw in Evansville on Saturday afternoon. A temperature in the high 30s, combined with a rough pitch on the campus of the University of Evansville, led to few good offensive chances for either side.
90 in a Nutshell
Both teams made headlines with offseason signings and immediately vaulted to the top of many speculators Eastern Conference projections, and the game started with a lot of those signings on the field. Nashville lined up both MLS signings Daniel Ríos and Cameron Lancaster up top while Indy Eleven sent out new forwards Ilija Ilic and Dane Kelly. Neither pair saw much of the ball as both backlines kept the game in check. The best chance of the first half saw Indy cross a ball into Ilic at the far post. Ilic had a look at the open net, but Nashville defender Liam Doyle slid in and made the block, preventing a goal.
Nashville had a prime chance to take the lead early in the second half when Lebo Moloto earned Nashville a free kick from 25 yards out in the 55’ minute. Lancaster took the set piece and missed the frame by a few feet on a curling shot. Moloto had a chance himself in the 75’ minute when forward Kharlton Belmar sent a low cross to him, but the bumpy field didn’t allow Moloto a clean shot.
The final 10 minutes saw NSC with the majority of possession in the attacking third, but the Eleven backline and keeper Evan Newton kept Nashville off the scoreboard.
Connor Sparrow and Matt Pickens – 4 saves
Both Nashville SC keepers got minutes on Saturday and both were forced to come up with timely saves. Sparrow made three, including a diving save in the second half. Pickens had to come up with a diving save himself after he came on in the second half. Nashville SC has the luxury of two first-choice goalkeepers and both were big on Saturday.
Head Coach Gary Smith
“On a very difficult surface and against a particularly competitive opponent, I thought there were some really nice passages of play. Their shape, 3-5-2, 3-4-3 type of shape, dictated to us on occasions, and I thought we did likewise when we got into a little bit of a rhythm. Chances were fairly balanced. Neother team really took advantage of the few moments and sights of goal. Ultimately, we will walk away and think the competition we have faced this preseason will have set us up nicely for our opening game against Loudoun.”
Nashville SC will return home for its USL Championship season opener on Saturday night against newcomer Loudoun United FC at 7 p.m at First Tennessee Park. Season tickets are still available at NashvilleSC.com/tickets for as low as $10 a game.