Split-squad scrimmage gives Nashville SC first intersquad minutes
BRADENTON, Fla. – Nashville Soccer Club played to a scoreless draw in its first preseason scrimmage as a Major League Soccer club on Thursday afternoon at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. against Swedish top-tier side IF Elfsborg.
The match was uniquely divided into three 30-minute periods that allowed for the complete roster to log valuable minutes. The format gave Head Coach Gary Smith and his staff the opportunity to evaluate the entire roster as the players executed Smith’s tactical plans for the first time.
First Period - GK Joe Willis, D Eric Miller, D Dave Romney, D Jalil Anibaba, D Dan Lovitz, M Hany Mukhtar, M Aníbal Godoy, M Alan Winn, M Dax McCarty, M Abu Danladi, F Dominique Badji
Second Period - GK Adrían Zendejas, D Brayan Beckeles, D Ken Tribbett, D Jack Maher (MLS SuperDraft Pick), D Taylor Washington, M Derrick Jones, M Tah Brian Anunga, M Trialist, M Matt LaGrassa, M Alistair Johnston (MLS SuperDraft Pick), F Cameron Lancaster
Third Period - GK Elliot Panicco (MLS SuperDraft Pick), D Trialist, D Trialist, D Trialist, D Trialist, M Trialist, M Trialist, M Trialist, M Tanner Dieterich (MLS SuperDraft Pick), M Shak Adams (MLS SuperDraft Pick), F Luke Haakenson (MLS SuperDraft Pick)
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Observations and Notes
Planting the Seeds – There’s no substitute for live action, and this first preseason friendly allowed for the Boys in Gold to grow and develop on the fly. It gave players the chance to continue to lay the foundations of chemistry on the pitch and learn to connect with their teammates in live action. Midway through the first period, midfielders Dax McCarty and Hany Mukhtar connected on a give-and-go through the midfield that created a promising attacking opportunity. Forward Dominique Badji played both out wide and in the center and generated offense, including the first shot of the period after a well-orchestrated play to get space at the top of the 18-yard box.
Defensive Links – The preseason action also allowed for the defensive group to learn how to communicate effectively with everyone on the pitch and learn each other’s tendencies when dropping back into defense.
Defenders Dan Lovitz, Dave Romney, Jalil Anibaba and Eric Miller were constantly communicating, letting midfielders know their options up the pitch and letting their fellow defenders know what to do with players charging forward. That communication helped in situations when Elfsborg moved forward, including a late chance that was blocked by Lovitz, who shifted into the middle to make the defensive play.
After a brief trip back to Nashville, the Boys in Gold will continue building towards the club’s MLS debut on Feb. 29 in training camp next week back in Florida. The club’s next preseason match will take place next Thursday, Feb. 6 against Chicago Fire FC.