NASHVILLE – The proverbial champagne will have to be iced for another day. Nashville SC drew Toronto FC II 2-2 on Tuesday night at First Tennessee Park, earning a point but not a playoff berth.
Matt LaGrassa and Brandon Allen were dominant for Nashville SC, but their second-half strikes were not enough to seal the deal. Now, Nashville will have to win or draw in its final regular season match on Saturday, or get some help from Ottawa Fury FC in order to clinch a trip to the playoffs in its inaugural season.
90 in a Nutshell
Nashville SC started the match with some effective passing and movement in the attacking third, but couldn’t find a goal to match it. In the 21’ minute, Alan Winn earned a penalty kick, but Matt LaGrassa couldn’t capitalize as TFC II keeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell lunged to make the save to his right. Nashville continued to earn corner kicks and more opportunities. In the 35’ minute, a free kick was placed nicely to Ropapa Mensah in front, but his header was saved at the last moment. The half ended in a scoreless draw.
In the second half, the teams went back and forth as Nashville pressed forward looking for a goal that would send the team into the postseason. In the 53’ minute, Nashville captain Michael Reed fired off a left-footed shot from the top of the box that was saved. Minutes later, Reed fired another but it rang off the far post. Mensah and LaGrassa kept firing at the net but Patterson-Sewell was on his toes and made the save on both.
In the 63’ minute, Brandon Allen weaved his way down the left wing and laid a picture-perfect pass off to LaGrassa, who popped the ball into the empty net for Nashville’s first goal.
Later in the second half, an Alan-to-Allen combo doubled Nashville’s advantage. A long ball in for Winn sprung him free down the left wing, and he crossed to the middle for Allen who buried it to make it 2-0 in the 72’ minute. That goal proved crucial as TFC II came back in the 75’ minute with a rebound goal by Jordan Perruzza.
In the final 10 minutes, TFC II’s Jordan Hamilton rose up for a header at the back post and placed it just past Matt Pickens to tie the match 2-2. Nashville pushed hard in the final minutes with a few golden chances, but Patterson-Sewell kept his ground to keep the match level until the final whistle.
NSH 63’ – Matt LaGrassa (assisted by Brandon Allen)
NSH 72’ – Brandon Allen (assisted by Alan Winn)
TOR 75’ – Jordan Perruzza
TOR 85’ – Jordan Hamilton (assisted by Ryan Telfer)
“When you dig a little bit deeper, the final ball wasn’t quite right, the movement in the area wasn’t quite right. A lot of promising moments also frittered into nothing. However, again, just too many chances, too many moments even at 2-2. Michael Reed has a wonderful opportunity. Alan Winn has a great chance in the final moments. There are so many, I’m sure, you’d be able to fill me in on a few as well that have slipped my mind. It's a game we should have won.” –Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith
Watching the East
The point keeps Nashville in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with one match remaining. A Nashville SC win or draw against FC Cincinnati on Saturday OR a loss or draw by Ottawa Fury FC in an afternoon matinee on Saturday puts Nashville into the USL playoffs. If Nashville loses and Ottawa wins, it would come down to Bethlehem Steel FC’s match against the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Sunday.
Nashville SC closes out the regular season on Saturday against FC Cincinnati at First Tennessee Park with a trip to the playoffs on the line. Kickoff is at 7:30 PM.