CINCINNATI, Ohio (March 3, 2018) – Ultimately the result won’t count, but Nashville SC’s 2-2 draw to FC Cincinnati on Saturday at Gettler Stadium in the Queen City featured two of the projected United Soccer League (USL) heavyweights this season. The preseason friendly did not disappoint as Nashville SC found a late goal to secure the result.
Coming off a season where FCC made the USL Cup Playoffs and come within a goal of the U.S. Open Cup Final, Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith called the hosts “the toughest game” of the preseason. The match lived up to Smith’s billing as the back and forth affair featured numerous chances for both sides.
"We have taken very positive steps with every game," said Smith. "I’ve always thought this was going to be our toughest game. It was our first match on a turf field, against an Eastern rival, full squad. We took a moment or two to adapt to the field. Once we got to grips with the surface, I thought we absolutely dominated the first half. Cox had a great chance that he smashed off the crossbar. Tucker had some good chances as well after the goal. I thought we controlled the first 45."
Nashville started on the front foot and capitalized on the momentum with a strike off the left foot of midfielder Matt LaGrassa just outside the box in the 21’ minute. It’s LaGrassa’s first goal of the preseason and makes him the seventh different Nashville SC player to score so far in the preseason.
"Matt [LaGrassa] had a very good first 90 minutes for the team," said Smith. "I thought there were a couple of other good performances. Michael Reed looked great and so did Lebo [Moloto]. This group’s last two outings have looked fantastic. They have scored 5 goals in their last two games."
However, Cincinnati was able to find an answer just before halftime. Midfielder Lance Laing equalized from 25 yards out on FCC’s only shot on net in the first half to send the clubs to the locker room at halftime tied at 1-1.
The second half featured more chances for both sides as Nashville goalkeeper Matt Pickens made two saves early in the second half to deny Cincinnati a lead. Then in the span of three minutes, Nashville earned three corners, but they too were denied a go-ahead goal.
Cincinnati went ahead in the 65’ minute when FCC forward Emery Welshman scored from close range just inside the post. It looked like the 2-1 scoreline would hold until substitute Robin Shroot earned a late penalty for Nashville SC in the 87’ minute.
Fellow forward sub Alan Winn stepped up to the spot and buried his second penalty kick of the preseason to provide the final tally of the match. It was Winn’s team-leading third goal of the preseason.
"While results are immaterial, it was good to get one," said Smith. "I thought we should have taken the win. They had one or two spells we had to contain, but in terms of chances created, they had few efforts."
Nashville SC will play a seventh and final preseason friendly next Saturday in Chattanooga at 7 p.m. against Chattanooga FC of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), the fourth division of U.S. professional soccer. Tickets to the match are still available at http://shop.chattanoogafc.com/.