NSH v NE Final

Renasant Recap: Joe Willis’ career-best sixth clean sheet earns resilient Nashville a crucial point at New England Revolution

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Oct. 3, 2020) – Nashville SC (4W-5L-5D, 17 pts.) earned a scoreless draw on the road at New England Revolution (5W-3L-7D, 22 pts.) on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium. The result came from the hand of goalkeeper Joe Willis who earned his sixth clean sheet, setting a new career high with only 14 matches played.

Despite missing five attackers due to injury, the Boys in Gold grinded out a massive point in the Eastern Conference standings in Head Coach Gary Smith’s 300th career match as a manager. With the draw, Nashville captured its 17th point of the season to remain above the playoff line and level on points with Atlanta United and Montreal Impact in the Eastern Conference, with a game in hand.

Joe Willis sets single-season career high for shutouts: Joe Willis kept his sixth clean sheet of the season, beating his previous Major League Soccer single-season career high with Houston Dynamo in 2016. The experienced ‘keeper made five saves in the match, his most impressive coming against attacking midfielder Tajon Buchanan, who had a shot from just outside the six-yard box in the 64th minute. Willis rose to the challenge whenever he was called upon during the match.

Tactical shift: Without any true forwards available for the match, Head Coach Gary Smith adjusted from his usual 4-2-3-1 formation to a slightly more defensive 4-3-3 system. Smith moved both Tah Brian Anunga and Matt LaGrassa, who made his first MLS start tonight, into midfield. The extra body in the center of the park paid dividends defensively as Derrick Jones, Hany Mukhtar and Randall Leal rotated in the attack.

Defensive solidity: In addition to Willis’ steadiness between the sticks, the backline played a solid match en route to the clean sheet. The NSC back four made 25 clearances and won 13 tackles compared to New England’s 17 clearances and nine tackles.

Notes

  • Nashville SC faced the New England Revolution for the first time in club history.
  • The club started the 2nd youngest team they’ve ever fielded this season. Six starters had less than 15 career MLS starts (Johnson, Anunga, LaGrassa, Mukhtar, Leal, Jones).
  • Nashville SC is now tied with Seattle Sounders FC (2009) for the fewest goals allowed by an MLS expansion club through 14 matches.
  • Gary Smith managed his 300th professional career match.
  • Midfielder Matt LaGrassa made his MLS start debut.
  • Goalkeeper Joe Willis earned his sixth clean sheet of the season, setting a new personal single-season career high in just 14 matches. He is now tied for second in clean sheets in MLS with Philadelphia’s Andre Blake and NYCFC’s Sean Johnson, trailing Columbus’ Eloy Room.
  • Willis recorded five saves after tying a career-high with seven on Saturday, Sept. 26 against his former club, the Houston Dynamo.
  • The backline trio of Lovitz, Romney and Zimmerman have combined for five of Nashville’s six shutouts.
  • Midfielder Dax McCarty appeared in his 375th career match.
  • Defender Jalil Anibaba subbed in the 76th minute against his former club, where he made 53 appearances from 2018-19.

Up Next

Nashville SC hosts Minnesota United FC on Tuesday, Oct. 6 at Nissan Stadium for the first time in club history. The match kicks off at 7:30 p.m. CT and will be broadcast live on MyTV30, ESPN 94.9 and El Jefe.

Video Highlights

BOX SCORE

Nashville SC (4W-5L-5D, 17 pts.) vs. New England Revolution (5W-3L-7D, 22 pts.) Sept. 26, 2020 — Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.

Final Score
NSH: 0
NE: 0

Scoring Summary
NSH: --
NE: --

Discipline
NSH: Anibaba (caution), 80’
NE: --

Lineups

NSH: Joe Willis; Dan Lovitz, Dave Romney, Walker Zimmerman, Alistair Johnston; Dax McCarty, Tah Brian Anunga, Randall Leal (Alex Muyl, 89’), Derrick Jones (Alan Winn, 85’), Hany Mukhtar (Jalil Anibaba, 76’); Matt LaGrassa
Unused Substitutes: Elliot Panicco, Brayan Beckeles, Miguel Nazarit, Jack Maher, Eric Miller, Taylor Washington

TOTAL SHOTS: 3 (Leal, McCarty, Johnston, 1); SHOTS ON GOAL: 1 (Leal, 1); FOULS: 9 (Leal, 3); OFFSIDES: 1 (Mukhtar, 1); CORNER KICKS: 3; SAVES: 5; POSSESSION: 34.1%

NE: Matt Turner; Brandon Bye (Diego Fagundez, 82’), Andrew Farrell, Henry Kessler, DeJuan Jones; Scott Caldwell, Tommy McNamara, Tajon Buchanan, Lee Nguyen (Adam Buksa, 63’), Teal Bunbury (Cristian Penilla, 63’); Gustavo Bou
Unused Substitutes: Brad Knighton, Michael Mancienne, Antonio Mlinar Delamea, Seth Sinovic, Kelyn Rowe

TOTAL SHOTS: 17; SHOTS ON GOAL: 5; FOULS: 9; OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 12; SAVES: 1; POSSESSION: 65.9%

Referee: David Gantar
Assistant Referees: Kathryn Nesbitt, Kyle Atkins
Fourth Official: Drew Fischer
VAR: Claudiu Badea
Weather: Clear

Statistics are unofficial.