NASHVILLE – Nashville Soccer Club’s recent two-match losing streak is the exception to the rule when it comes to the club’s history.
It’s just the second time since the club joined the professional ranks in 2018 that it has lost two league matches in a row, and Head Coach Gary Smith will be looking to see how his players respond to this adversity as they prepare to face Memphis 901 FC next Wednesday night.
“I think we’re going through the most difficult period we’ve had this year,” Smith said. “When I say that, back-to-back defeats are never easy for any team, and it’s at this point that I would expect the caliber, the experience and the mental fortitude of the players to start to come through. And the best teams, they recover from these blips and these difficulties and they go on and get themselves back on track quickly. I think the 10 or 11 days we have before the Memphis game has been very important for us. We’ve been able to get on the field and just start to think about one or two of the areas that we were under par at the weekend. The injuries didn’t help, and they won’t help in the near future, but again, we have a strong group and I have no doubt that the players who haven’t necessarily been seeing the field as much as they would have liked will now step up and pick up that bat and get us back on track.”
After Nashville SC fell 2-1 to Louisville City FC on Saturday night, defender Liam Doyle summed up the situation for his defensive group that has allowed six goals in its last three matches by saying “I don’t think we’ve turned into bad defenders overnight.”
His teammate on the back line, defender Bradley Bourgeois, echoed the same sentiments when discussing his team’s performance defensively.
“Just being collective as a unit,” Bourgeois said. “Belief in each other, belief we can get the job done. But [Doyle] has a very good point. It’s not like we just turned into bad defenders overnight. It’s just something that maybe isn’t going right, but I think it’s something that’s fixable. It’s just the next game. We’ll see what we have to do, but it’s just about being collective as a unit.”
Smith has been working with his defenders on what has been going wrong, and while he is looking for a stronger defensive output, he doesn’t want it to come at the cost of the offensive acumen that has propelled the team forward this season.
“Last year, we had the second-best defensive record in the league,” Smith said. “There are one or two things at the moment that are not quite right. Is it a catastrophe at this point? Of course not. There are some mistakes that are being made a little bit too regularly and teams are punishing us for that. There’s no doubt about it, we certainly have to get back towards that more frugal and difficult-to-play-against type of group, but I certainly don’t want to lose some of the creative edge that we’ve had.”
The Boys in Gold are just past the halfway point in the 2019 season, and the intensity of the matches and the importance of each point in the standings will only grow from here. Despite the club’s struggles in its last couple of matches, Smith has full confidence that his squad can turn it around going into the stretch run of the season.
“The last two games have been very difficult for us on all fronts,” Smith said. “But this is a good group of players and I’ve still got an awful lot of faith in the players in the group and there’s a lot of belief in the players. Given the point at which we’re in the season, there’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll get back on a very good run. Most teams have a difficulty at some point. Maybe this is ours, and I believe we’ll be back in that top echelon of teams and fighting hopefully for something very important and serious at the end of the season.”