NASHVILLE – In a rain-soaked affair in Music City, Nashville SC got the chance to see what type of competition they will face at the Major League Soccer level in 2020 in a 2-0 loss to New York City FC.
An announced crowd of 5,384 braved the steady rain to see the Boys in Gold get an important tune-up for their 2019 USL Championship regular season. Despite the 2-0 scoreline, Nashville was able to apply plenty of pressure to an MLS side that will look to contend for the MLS Cup this season.
90 in a Nutshell
The opening 10 minutes were marked by back-and-forth play in the midfield and minimal scoring threats. Nashville had the better of the possession and put a number of balls forward, but nothing came of them. New signing Kharlton Belmar had a good look at goal around the 24’ minute, but couldn't find a proper shot. On the ensuing counterattack, NYCFC’s Jonathan Lewis put a shot well wide of the far post streaking down the left wing.
In the 27’ minute, Belmar saw a ball ricochet off his hand in the 18-yard box, giving NYCFC a penalty kick. Designated Player Maxi Moralez slotted home the penalty to the lower left corner to give the road side a 1-0 lead. In the 40’ minute, NYCFC’s new designated player signing Alexandru Mitrita curled a ball from 25 yards out past the outstretched arm of keeper Matt Pickens to double NYCFC’s advantage. Nashville found themselves down 2-0 going into halftime.
Nashville subbed in Daniel Ríos at halftime, marking the first time that MLS signings Rios and Cameron Lancaster took the field at the same time. The extra striker in Ríos paid dividends as Nashville looked more dangerous in the attacking third. Belmar used some technical skill down the left wing to free up a chance in the middle in the first few minutes of the half, but captain Michael Reed put a chance wide. The home side continued to apply pressure before making wholesale changes to the lineup in the 60’ minute. Minutes later, a Mitrita free kick nearly found the back of the net for NYCFC, but an unbelievable lunging stop by new goalkeeper Connor Sparrow kept NYCFC’s advantage at 2-0. In the 74’ minute, Vinnie Vermeer, who was signed on Friday after a successful trial, took a blistering shot from the top right of the 18-yard box that sailed wide.
In the 88’ minute, Nashville applied one last gasp of pressure, but couldn't capitalize as Tucker Hume put a header off a corner just wide of the right post. Ropapa Mensah followed it up with a chip over the NYCFC keeper that sailed high and over the crossbar. Mensah had one more look at goal that sailed wide before the final whistle.
28’ NYC – Maxi Moralez (PK)
40’ NYC – Alexandru Mitrita
“All of the guys physically were in good shape. No problems there. There was a lot of work that both groups got through, and of course the first group played a longer period. I’ve got no question marks on where the guys are at from an athletic standpoint. I’m pleased with where they’re at from a structural standpoint. Tonight has showed us against a very good team that if you squander the ball too cheaply, you get punished.” –Head Coach Gary Smith
Nashville SC – Five Second-Half Shots
Despite not putting any shots near the frame in the first half, Nashville’s attack roared to live in the second half with increased possession and pace. The home side put up five shots, including a pair from Mensah in the final minutes of the match.
Nashville will stay in the Music City and pay a visit to Lipscomb University to take on the Bisons in a friendly on Wednesday night. Kickoff is slated for 5:00 PM at the Lipscomb Soccer Complex.