Nashville, Tenn. (Sept. 23, 2020) - Nashville SC (4W-5L-3D) got the job done on Wednesday night beating D.C. United 1-0 in a dynamic offensive performance for the Boys in Gold that extendend their unbeaten streak to four at Nissan Stadium.
Forward Daniel Ríos scored the lone goal of the match and his first in Major League Soccer in the 70’ minute on a header in the box, while Goalkeeper Joe Willis earned his fifth clean sheet, tying his career high. Tori Penso, the first female lead official in MLS since 2000, was busy throughout the match, showing a red card to D.C. United (2W-6L-5D) midfielder Russell Canouse in the first-half stoppage time.
Nashville played Head Coach Gary Smith’s usual 4-2-3-1 formation, but lineup changes led to tactical adjustments. To start the game, forward Dominique Badji played on the right wing, moving Alex Muyl to the left. Ríos started as the sole striker, while midfielder Derrick Jones played behind him as the No. 10.
Beginning the match without regulars such as Hany Mukhtar and Daniel Lovitz, Smith had to switch things up again in the 21’ minute when Badji went down with an injury. Winger Alan Winn replaced him, and it made for more flexibility in attacking areas as the 6-foot-4-inch Jones.
Nashville SC finally found the breakthrough in the 70’ minute thanks to a Ríos’ header. Nashville dominated the tempo and possession with 61.2% through the final whistle. The result sees NSC move back up over the playoff line into ninth place with a match in hand.
Daniel Ríos Takes His Chance: Nashville’s top scorer in the USL Championship last season, and the first-ever MLS signing for Nashville SC scored his first MLS goal in the 70’ minute. Right-back Alistair Johnston’s corner-kick met center-back Dave Romney’s head, who flicked it on for Ríos to head home at the back post. He also threatened the goal often: he curled a free-kick past the post in the 39’ minute and had a hard shot saved in the 43’ minute from the edge of the box.
Deep Midfield Dominance: For the first hour of the match until captain Dax McCarty departed from the pitch for midfielder Randall Leal, the duo of McCarty and Aníbal Godoy controlled the middle of the park. They won their individual battles against D.C.’s attacking midfielders Julian Gressel and Yamil Asad, mopped up almost every loose ball in their area, played progressive passes and tested D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid a handful of times. Godoy, who is the second-most accurate passer in the league while playing 10% more forward passes than first-placed Darlington Nagbe, passed the eye test with flying colors as he always looked up the field.
Derrick Jones’ Dribbling Clinic: The attacking midfielder started in place of Hany Mukhtar, and cut through D.C.’s midfield like a knife through warm butter all match long. The former Philadelphia Union homegrown collected four fouls in the first half alone, two of which led to yellow cards and a consequential ejection for Canouse. Jones won two free kicks in prime scoring territory within 25 yards of the goal. He continued his strong performance after he moved back into deep midfield when McCarty was substituted out, recycling possession next to Godoy to see out the last 28 minutes.
6-1 corner kicks - Nashville had five more corner kicks than their opponents, one of which led to the match’s only goal.
- Nashville SC extended its home unbeaten streak to four matches
- Daniel Ríos, Nashville SC’s first MLS signing, scored his first MLS goal
- Taylor Washington made his MLS start debut Nashville held 61.2% possession
- Joe Willis made one save to give him 28 on the season; kept his fifth clean sheet of the season, tied for his single-season record
- First of two consecutive matches where Willis plays one of his former clubs
- First time in MLS history that NSC played against 10 men due to Russell Canouse’s red card
- No Designated Players started the match for either team
- Randall Leal returned from injury, subbing on for McCarty in the 62’ minute
- Dan Lovitz was suspended for this match due to yellow card accumulation, ending his season-long streak of playing in every minute of every match. Dave Romney, Walker Zimmerman and Joe Willis remain as the only Nashville players with the same streak
70’ - Daniel Ríos (NSH), assisted by Dave Romney, Alistair Johnston
DC: Russell Canouse—37’, 45+3’ (unsporting behavior)
NSH: Taylor Washington—79’ (unsporting behavior)
Starting XI: Joe Willis; Taylor Washington, Dave Romney, Walker Zimmerman, Alistair Johnston; Dax McCarty (Randall Leal—62’), Aníbal Godoy, Alex Muyl (Jalil Anibaba—83’), Derrick Jones, Dominique Badji (Alan Winn—21’); Daniel Ríos
Unused Substitutes: Elliot Panicco, Matt LaGrassa, Brayan Beckeles, Eric Miller, Tah Brian Anunga, Jack Maher
Nashville SC will host Houston Dynamo on Saturday, Sept. 26 at Nissan Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. CT on TUDN, Twitter, ESPN 94.9 and El Jefe.