CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (March 10, 2018) – Three first half goals from Nashville SC were enough to beat Chattanooga FC 3-1 in the club’s final preseason tune up at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga on Saturday night. Matt LaGrassa, Ropapa Mensah and Tucker Hume all found their way onto the scoresheet in the visitor’s victory.
Nashville SC came out with a new look Starting XI that featured a mix of more and less experienced players for the team’s last chance to fine tune before its regular season starts next week.
It was all Chattanooga FC early as the hosts dominated the first ten minutes of play. It took multiple saves and help from the crossbar to keep Chattanooga off the board. One sequence featured three Chattanooga shots from ten yards away, the first was saved by Pickens while the Nashville defenders cleared the final two off the line.
“I was a little disappointed in the first period,” said Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith. “Other than the goals, I think there were some areas where we could have been sharper. I actually thought the second period we looked more threatening, despite not being able to convert. This was ultimately about getting players some more minutes under their belt and remaining injury-free.”
In the 18’ minute, Nashville earned its first corner of the match. After a London Woodberry header hit the post, Bolu Akinyode followed it up with a shot that hit a Chattanooga defender’s hand. Midfielder Matt LaGrassa converted the awarded penalty past the CFC keeper to put Nashville on the board.
“It's nice to get on the scoresheet and get an assist, but there are things that I did that I will look back and get better on,” said LaGrassa. “That's the nature of the game; it’s critical and a lot of us are that way. We will look back at this film, and a lot of us will have things that we wish we did better. At the end of the day, a win is a win, and we will take it moving forward.”
It didn’t take long for Nashville to strike again. In the 30’ minute, Ropapa Mensah took advantage of a mishit by the Chattanooga backline. He then beat the keeper to the 50/50 ball and slotted home his second goal of the preseason into the empty net.
Just before halftime, LaGrassa found Tucker Hume where the 6’5” forward showed he’s more than just an aerial threat. He danced through the CFC backline and found the back of the net for his first goal of the preseason.
“For a big fellow, Tucker is quite fleet-footed,” said Smith. “He is more than capable of finding an angle and getting the shot off. Ropapa did ever so well to muscle out the defender and finish for his goal. He was determined and didn’t let the moment lie. The penalty came from one of a few set pieces this preseason that looked threatening.”
Chattanooga FC got on the board in the second half after Nashville SC misplayed a ball along the backline. Juan Hernandez capitalized on the confusion and gave the home fans something to cheer about. Ultimately however, it wasn’t enough as Nashville SC’s first half was enough to carry them to a 3-1 victory.
“It’s always nice to get a win going into the regular season,” said LaGrassa. “You know, obviously we will be facing opponents coming up, that on paper will be better than Chattanooga. Hopefully, we can take the win and carry the momentum forward.”
Nashville SC will kick off its season next Saturday against the defending USL Cup champions, Louisville City FC at 2 p.m. CT.
“If we are going to have a test, a bit of a benchmark, then there is none better than Louisville,” said Smith. “The season can’t be won or lost next weekend. We have fared well in the games leading up to next weekend. I see no reason why the group I have in that locker room will not turn up and perform. Everybody will be frothing at the mouth waiting for it, and it’s been a long time coming.”