NASHVILLE – Nashville Soccer Club players, staff and fans alike have reached the end of an emotion-packed week filled with both happiness and heartache. From seeing its captain sustain an injury early in Wednesday’s match, to turning around in that same match to witness four spectacular goals against Hartford Athletic, the club showed its resilience in the result. Just three days later, the team returned to First Tennessee Park and saw out a 0-0 draw against Bethlehem Steel FC, clinching its 13th point in the last five matches. Through the highs and lows of the week, Nashville SC’s supporters were by the club’s side for the whole ride.
Thousands of fans poured into First Tennessee Park to see the Boys in Gold play in their home stadium for the first time in 46 days on Wednesday night as they looked to clinch their fourth straight shutout victory. With the momentum swinging to Nashville’s favor and the crowd eager to see its team back in action, the highly anticipated match kicked off under a beautiful Nashville sky at 7 p.m. Just minutes into the match, captain Michael Reed went down after a hard tackle in the midfield and was immediately carted off the field to later undergo surgery on his ankle, leaving all in attendance with feelings of shock and grief for the loss of their injured captain.
With the first half ending 0-0, Nashville SC came out from the locker room with a newfound spark as teammates aimed to honor Reed. It wasn’t long before one goal turned into four and Nashville SC clinched another clean sheet victory to propel the team into third place in the Eastern Conference standings. Goals came from regular faces and new, as Ken Tribbett, Daniel Ríos, Alan Winn and Ropapa Mensah all got in on the fun.
It came as no surprise that after the win, Reed would be awarded the Budweiser Man of the Match award for the leadership and courage he showed in the face of adversity. Between Wednesday and Saturday’s match, fans poured messages of encouragement to Reed and continued on to support Nashville SC again at home on Saturday as the team hosted Bethlehem Steel FC.
Nashville SC was in search of its fifth straight clean sheet win after Wednesday’s result. Bethlehem Steel FC would likely be a difficult test. The two teams came into the match with very different weekly schedules. Nashville SC would be playing its third game in eight days having played Swope Park on Aug. and Hartford Athletic three days prior, whereas Bethlehem had not played in 10 days since August 1.
Despite countless chances on goal in the second half, goal-line clearances and compact defending from Bethlehem kept the match scoreless. However, Nashville SC was able to maintain the clean sheet thanks to two standout saves from veteran goalkeeper Matt Pickens. The team still earned a point and clinched its 13th point out of a possible 15 in the last five matches, changing the narrative from a win streak to a still-admirable unbeaten streak. Regardless of the 0-0 draw, Nashville SC remains in the midst of a historic run as it continues to add to its point total in the final stretch of the 2019 season.
A busy and action-packed Week 23 will be followed by just once match next Saturday. The team will turn its attention to the Charlotte Independence as it heads to North Carolina for a road match on Saturday, Aug. 17 at 6:00 p.m. ET. Head coach Gary Smith remains optimistic as Nashville looks to keep the clean-sheet streak going next week.