LOUISVILLE – A night that started with energy and promise ended in disappointment for Nashville Soccer Club as the defending champion Louisville City FC came back to win 2-1 at Louisville Slugger Field.
Daniel Ríos’ early strike was not enough to carry the full 90 minutes, as Louisville found the back of the net twice in the second half to snatch the win. Louisville could have equalized right before halftime, but a missed penalty kept Nashville in front. With multiple players dealing with injuries throughout the match, including fellow forward Cameron Lancaster, the night turned on its head as the second half wore on.
“The goal that puts us in front is a world-class strike and to be honest,” Head Coach Gary Smith said. “1-0 at halftime was a little bit fortuitous after them penalty miss. There were far too many signs that suggested that Louisville might get back in the game. However, I thought we started the second half very brightly. Taylor [Washington] had a wonderful opportunity to put us further in front. But generally, we just looked a lot more assured. Our shape, I felt, looked far more competitive. We certainly got into better areas, we pressurized the ball better, we really negated a lot of things that Louisville did. The set piece puts them back on track again, it gives them a huge lift. And to ultimately go on and lose the game is very deflating, I have to say. On top of that, we had a very strange evening with regards to injuries. We had four injuries. Daniel [Ríos] played the last 25 minutes with an injury, we had two other injuries and an injury to Michael Reed. It’s been a weird evening. Certainly not excuses, but it was unsettling. I still felt as though we had more than enough to get something out of this game.”
Ríos’ goal was a rifled shot from the top left corner of the box that hit the far post and went in, and the forward followed up his goal with an homage to USWNT forward Alex Morgan’s tea-drinking celebration.
“Yeah, I saw that celebration and I liked it so much,” Ríos said. “I just thought about doing it like that. I had it in my mind before I scored.”
Up by a goal, Nashville started the second half with plenty of momentum, but a few minutes into the second session, the tide began to turn towards Louisville, and the home side got the equalizing goal off of a set piece in the 65’ minute. In the 74’ minute, a quick counterattack put Louisville in front.
The defenders lamented how the two goals went in and know they must improve going forward.
“Goals are going in against us, and I don’t think we’ve turned bad defenders overnight,” Defender Liam Doyle said. “I just think we have to keep working hard, get ourselves together and plug the gaps. I think collectively as a team as well, the last two weeks we’ve suffered too much without the ball. We’ve bent in the past and not broken, and lately we’ve been breaking in terms of giving up goals.”
Now, Nashville has 10 days to right the ship as a matchup with Memphis 901 FC looms on June 17. Smith hopes to have as many of his players healthy as possible and get them on the training ground to figure out how to get back to the club’s winning ways.
“Well there’s plenty of work we can do on the training field, that’s for sure,” Smith said. “My concern right now is how many players will be available. Certainly the four that we’ve spoken about are going to be omissions, I would suspect, which starts to limit what you can do and how you can prepare. Listen, we’ve got a lot of work to do. The standards that are being set at the moment are nowhere near good enough, not for this group. I think the guys realize that. I don’t think it’s for a lack of effort, but at this precise moment in time, there are too many players that are dipping below the standards that should be expected from the players we have.”