NASHVILLE – In the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the teams that advance are the teams that bring the right mindset to the pitch.
On Tuesday night, Nashville Soccer Club brought a bright attitude, and it paid off in the form of a 3-2 win in the Second Round of the U.S. Open Cup over USL League Two side South Georgia Tormenta FC 2. Even with a two-tier difference between the two clubs, Nashville did not underestimate its opponents, and it helped them secure the victory and a spot in the Third Round of the U.S. Open Cup.
“For an amateur group, they have performed at a magnificent level tonight, bearing in mind we’ve got what constitutes most of a first team group out there,” Head Coach Gary Smith said. “All of those guys have seen the field in league play. So, it was a very tough task. However, I still felt that we played extremely well and we should never have been in a position where we were on the edge of our seat at the end there. But that’s what the Cup is about. You’re going to see teams go out tonight to amateur groups, and you see it all around the world. I’ve seen it many times in England in the FA Cup where lower-league teams beat the bigger fish not because they’re necessarily more talented, but they’ve got bigger hearts on the day and their attitude has dragged them through. Maybe the talented players don’t quite get themselves up for the game, and tonight our players have gotten themselves up for the game.”
Tuesday night’s lineup also included new acquisition Derrick Jones, who started in the midfield for Nashville. He was acquired from MLS’ Philadelphia Union and will join Nashville SC in MLS starting in 2020. While he only played 74 minutes in this match, Smith is excited to see what Jones will have to offer in the midfield this season and into the future. However, he also knows there will be a bit of an adjustment period for the former Philadelphia homegrown player.
“I think from what I’ve seen of Derrick, we’ve really just touched the sides with him tonight,” Smith said. “He looked to me, whilst his attitude was terrific and he applied himself well, there’s no doubt that as he settles into the group, he understands and appreciates the players around him and what we’re trying to achieve a little bit more, and of course you’ve got to remember he’s never been away from Philadelphia. He’s come through that group from a young player, been a Homegrown and an MLS player there, this is a new challenge for him. He’s got to settle into a new city, he’s trying to relocate, it may have been maybe a step too far for him tonight, but he’s a young man. They want to play, and it’s the best way for him to express himself. I think tonight’s performance was really just the beginning of what you’re going to see from Derrick and I’m sure there’s plenty more to come.”
Jones is also amped and ready to continue the adjustment process as he gets to know his new teammates and a new system.
“We are going to build on this and keep going,” Jones said. “It doesn’t matter what team we play; we play our game and push hard all the time. I am just going to keep working on my game and getting fit as we have a lot of games to play.”
The Second Round match took place at Hayes Stadium in Murfreesboro, making it the first Nashville SC home match taking place outside of Davidson County. The sellout crowd, coupled with a pristine playing surface, make for a great return trip when Nashville SC plays in the Third Round on May 29 against the winner of Wednesday night’s match between Charleston Battery and Greenville Triumph SC.
“We look forward to watching the game tomorrow night between Charleston and Greenville, and we get the winners of those at home,” Smith said. “We’ll be back here, we look forward to coming back here, they've really looked after us, the field was magnificent, an absolute carpet.”
In the meantime, Nashville SC returns to league play on Saturday night against Charlotte Independence at First Tennessee Park.