NASHVILLE – A lot has changed since April 14, 2018.
Kanye West released a new album, another British royal couple got married, and the internet was introduced to Yanny and Laurel.
Not to be outdone, Nashville SC has gone from an expansion darling to a force in the USL since the team last lost on April 14.
Nashville is currently riding an eight-match unbeaten streak across all competitions, and it’ll take that into its U.S. Open Cup showdown with the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday at Vanderbilt Stadium.
While the streak has not been a night-and-day turnaround for the club, the team’s climb in the last eight matches has caught plenty of eyes. It’s been a full team effort to get there, with both the offense and defense stepping up in a big way against the toughest schedule in the USL so far this season.
In the five matches in 2018 prior to the streak, Nashville was scoring at a rate of 0.8 goals per game. In the eight matches since, Nashville has more than doubled that scoring clip, scoring at a rate of 1.63 goals per game.
Part of that is due to the addition of forward Brandon Allen, who made his debut with the club on May 23 in Nashville’s U.S. Open Cup match against Mississippi Brilla. In three starts with Nashville SC, Allen has three goals to tie him for the team lead. Most recently, he opened the scoring against Penn FC off of a feed from the other Nashville newcomer, Ish Jome, en route to a 3-1 victory.
“I’ve been doing it my whole life,” Allen said of his scoring touch. “Being with this club, I really feel like I’m a part of it and the players around me really help me to get to those right spots. It’s a pleasure to be here and I’m excited for the next game.”
However, Allen and Jome’s insertion into the lineup doesn’t tell the whole story. The streak started before the pair were even signed. The emergence of forward Lebo Moloto has also been a major factor. Moloto burst onto the scene for Nashville SC with a brace against Louisville City FC on May 13 and followed it up with a SportsCenter-worthy goal this Saturday against Penn FC. He’s also tied for the team lead in assists with two.
On top of that, other players have emerged and gotten themselves on the score sheet. Robin Shroot, Tucker Hume and London Woodberry all snagged goals in Open Cup action, while Alan Winn and Liam Doyle each got USL goals during the streak.
Not to be outdone, the Nashville SC defense has been lights-out. The club has only allowed four goals during the run and has not allowed more than one goal in a game since April 14. Defenders like Bradley Bourgeois and Bolu Akinyode have been active in keeping shots to the outside. Eleven different players have blocked at least one shot this season.
When the shots do get through, both Nashville SC keepers have been stout in keeping the net clear. Matt Pickens has six clean sheets, two of which were during this streak. He’s also made some highlight-reel stops, including this acrobatic flying save against Penn FC.
In Open Cup action, CJ Cochran has stood tall, allowing just one goal in 180+ minutes of action. He’ll possibly be the man in net when the club takes on the Rapids on Wednesday.
And if all that wasn’t enough, Nashville SC has gone on this streak despite the toughest schedule in the Eastern Conference.
Going into this week, Nashville SC sits in sixth in the East with just three points separating them from the second-place slot. There’s a lot of soccer left to be played, but if Nashville keeps this pace up, it will be tough to stop as the season wears on.
Want to catch the hottest team in USL in action? Tickets for Wednesday’s showdown with the Rapids, as well as matches throughout the #SummerOfSoccer, are available at NashvilleSC.com/tickets.