Hany Mukhtar vs. Portland Timbers, 3.8.20

Nashville SC working towards hitting its stride after 1-0 defeat at Portland Timbers

PORTLAND – After two MLS matches, Nashville SC is still searching for its first standings point, but the building blocks are certainly there to make that happen sooner rather than later.

On Sunday, Nashville took 14 shots, held the Portland Timbers without a shot after the 24’ minute and owned the overall edge in possession, yet fell 1-0 thanks to an early world-class volley from Diego Valeri.

That’s two matches in a row in which Nashville has dominated most metrics and held perennial MLS Cup contenders to extremely limited chances. Captain Dax McCarty knows his team has a lot to build on just two matches into its MLS existence.

“Another week where we control most of the play from 18 to 18 and we just can’t find the equalizer,” he said. “[We were] not sharp enough in the attacking third to get it done so plenty of work to do, plenty of positives that come out of the game of course, but we’re sitting here after two games on zero points feeling like we deserved a lot more.”

Of Nashville’s 14 shots, four of them went on target and three were blocked, which is a similar breakdown to Nashville’s 14 shots against Atlanta last week. However, the shot charts demonstrate that far more of Nashville’s chances against Portland came from inside the box, which means the Boys in Gold generated far more dangerous opportunities this time around than they did against Atlanta.

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Head Coach Gary Smith hopes to see that progress continue and lead to goals as the squad builds in its first month as an MLS club.

“Any coach or any team would be disappointed if they’re not creating chances,” Smith said. “The creation obviously leads to those moments that can make a difference in a game. We are creating chances, we are getting in good areas, we are mounting good pressure and we’re asking some serious questions of some real experienced teams here. Portland are a very, very good side. In our first year, in our second game, I think we can all feel very good about ourselves in terms of the way that we’ve played and conducted ourselves on this occasion. It won’t make me feel any better when I wake up in the morning and know we haven’t got any points out of it.”

For the second week in a row, Nashville SC leaves its match having generated the vast majority of the scoring chances, but still taking the loss thanks to a world-class goal conceded early on. Now, it will become about not getting discouraged and finding ways to earn results with tough tests coming up against Toronto FC and Columbus Crew SC.

“We started off very very brightly, and the goal I think was almost on the stroke of 10 minutes and it was a real kick in the teeth at that point, avoidable I felt from our point of view,” Smith said. “The response was fantastic. The majority of the game we looked in control, created some very nice openings, limited them to very little again and somehow, someway, they’ve been able to keep their goal intact and come away with the points, which is a big disappointment for us. I felt with all the efforts that we showed out there today we deserved something out of the game and unfortunately, we’re going to have to dig deep and push on. There’s a lot of good things going on, unfortunately, no points to show for.”

Nashville SC hits the road once again this Saturday north of the border against Toronto FC. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. CT.

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