Nashville SC Player Ratings vs. FC Cincinnati

The guys at Speedway Soccer Pod are back with their latest player ratings, this time breaking down the exciting regular season 3-3 finale against F.C. Cincinnati.

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Matt Pickens – 6.0: An up-and-down night. Let Bone’s opener slip in under him a little too easily, and flapped at an attempted olympico corner, giving up a horrible rebound and letting Albadawi head the ball into an empty net. Couldn’t do anything to stop Cincinnati’s third and made a couple key saves, including a world-class save in the first half to deny Ledesma from range.

Ryan James – 6.5: Looked a bit timid and for the first time all season, seemed hesitant to use his right foot (he’s typically the most two-footed player on the pitch). Completely lost track of Bone on their opener and didn’t contribute a ton going forward.

Bradley Bourgeois – 7.0: Stepped high to mark Ledesma on Cincy’s opener, but didn’t close him down quickly enough and left a huge gap behind for Bone to exploit. Other than that didn’t have a poor night, but it was a pretty average showing in his first game back in almost a month.

Liam Doyle – 7.5: Wasn’t really involved in any of Cincinnati’s goals and came up with several important interventions.

Taylor Washington – 8.5: Supported Winn really well on the left and typically bombed forward in search of an equalizer. His overlapping runs and driven balls into the box have been key to Nashville’s improved attack.

Ropapa Mensah – 8.5: Drove the ball at Blake Smith all night and came close to goal in the first half. Put in some good service in the second, including a beautiful assist to Brandon Allen. In great form heading into the playoffs.

Michael Reed – 7.5: Looked lively before coming off with an injury to his left hamstring in the 21st minute. Was walking around with no visible limp after halftime, so hopefully it was a precaution to keep him healthy for the playoffs.

Bolu Akinyode – 9.0: A really strong showing from Speedway Soccer’s highest rated player of the regular season. Battled in midfield all night, winning back possession and completing 97% of his passes (and only 26% were passed backwards). He was poorly positioned on Bone’s opener – he looked unsure who to mark and let Bone slip behind him into a huge pocket of space. But he redeemed himself with his first (and one of Nashville’s best) goal of the season.

Alan Winn – 9.0: A danger all night, equally capable of taking the ball to the endline or cutting inside onto his stronger right foot. Set up Hume with a perfectly weighted cross, and continued to cause problems for Cincinnati until he came off in the 73rd minute.

Matt LaGrassa – 8.5: Started as a second striker and dropped back to play as a no. 8 after Reed went off. Covered every inch of the field and popped up with a team high seven tackles. He’s in really good form heading into the playoffs.

Tucker Hume – 8.0: Got his seventh goal of the season with a good header back across the goal. Faded a bit as the game went on, but occupied the center backs and made space for LaGrassa and Tyrpak underneath. Came off for Allen after 64 minutes.

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Kris Tyrpak – 7.0: Replaced Reed early in the first half. Worked hard as a second forward, but never really came up with any end product. His most significant contribution was a shot he put straight at the ‘keeper that probably should have been a goal.

Brandon Allen – 8.0: Came on for Hume with around 30 minutes to play and produced a beautiful volleyed goal for Nashville’s second of the night. It seems he’s found a great role as an impact sub and has played with more energy than we’ve seen so far. He’ll be a key part of Nashville’s playoff performance.

Ramone Howell – 7.5: Replaced Alan Winn with 17 minutes to play and looked good, although somewhat unsure positionally. Operated underneath Allen but drifted to the right frequently. His biggest contribution was a blocked shot that led to Akinyode’s last gasp equalizer.

MANAGER

Gary Smith – 7.5: Can’t fault him too much for allowing three goals to the best attack in the country. His first two substitutions were strong, but it didn’t appear as if Howell had clear instructions on his role in the last 15 minutes. Smith’s teams have played Cincinnati really well all year, and it will be fascinating to see how he approaches the game this coming weekend.

Nashville SC Player Ratings vs. Toronto FC II

The guys at Speedway Soccer Pod are back with their latest player ratings, this time breaking down the 2-2 draw against Toronto FC II.

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Matt Pickens – 5.5: Gave up a bad rebound leading to Toronto’s opener, and should have saved their equalizer. Not a great night.
Kosuke Kimura – 8.5: Not at fault for Nashville’s defensive issues and really strong going forward.
Justin Davis – 6.0: Slow to react on Toronto’s first goal, and beaten in the air far too easily on their second. A really poor showing on the defensive side, although he was decent going forward.
Liam Doyle – 7.0: Not a particularly notable showing, but didn’t do a whole lot wrong.
Taylor Washington – 8.5: Really strong going forward, completing 94% of his passes and putting in some really good service. Should’ve been rewarded with better finishing from his strikers.
Bolu Akinyode – 8.0: Completed a high percentage of his passes, cleaned up messes in midfield, and let his teammates push forward. A pretty typical performance.
Michael Reed – 8.5: Moved the ball really well and put in some great service into the box. In a really good run of form.
Matt LaGrassa – 8.0: A bit of a mixed bag. Saw a penalty kick saved in the first half, but scored in the second on a half volley that was more difficult than it looked. Overall a positive performance.
Ropapa Mensah – 8.0: Took on defenders with pace all night and delivered some really good crosses into the box. Taken off for Woodberry in the 80th minute.
Tucker Hume – 6.5: Did really poorly with the service he got and didn’t make an impact. Replaced by Brandon Allen in the 62nd minute.
Alan Winn – 9.0: Dangerous all night. Earned the penalty in the first half and set up Allen with a beautiful layoff. Created five chances on the night. Really good performance.
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Brandon Allen – 9.5: His best performance of the season. Came on with 30 minutes to play and ran harder than he ever has in a Nashville shirt. Assisted LaGrassa after a brilliant run and scored what should have been the winner for Nashville. A different kind of performance than we’re used to seeing from him – hopefully it carries over into the playoffs.
London Woodberry – N/R: Replaced Mensah with 10 minutes to go and saw Nashville switch to a back five. Didn’t have any impact.
MANAGER
Gary Smith – 4.0: Let his team attack in the first 75 minutes and subbed in Brandon Allen, who changed the game. Tried to bunker in and squeeze out a 2-1 win and it absolutely backfired. Bringing on Woodberry saw momentum shift even more to Toronto and he again shows that won’t be aggressive and kill off a game when he needs to. Nashville blew a chance to secure a playoff berth at home against the worst team in the east, and it’s largely his fault.

 

Nashville SC player ratings vs. New York Red Bulls II

The guys at Speedway Soccer Pod are back with their latest player ratings, this time breaking down the 1-1 draw against New York Red Bulls II.

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Matt Pickens – 8.5: Completely stranded for New York’s goal, but stepped up in a big way to deny Barlow from the penalty spot. Crucial to deny NY three points.

Kosuke Kimura – 6.5: A pretty quiet night by his standards. An outlet in possession, but his end product was non-existent.
Justin Davis – 7.5: He’s been solid since the switch to center back. Strong defensively and good in possession. Had a last minute winner ruled out (correctly) due to offsides. It’s tough to blame him for going for it, but he shouldn’t have been caught in an offside position, and when he was, he should have let the ball roll in on its own.
Liam Doyle – 6.5: Completely fell asleep on New York’s opener and let Moreno ghost in behind him while he marked the empty space in front of Pickens. Technically got the assist for Reed’s goal after touching a free-kick to him, and had a strong header from a corner denied by a good save in second half stoppage time.
Taylor Washington – 6.5: A quiet night by his standards in the attacking half, and like Doyle fell asleep for New York’s opener. Gave away a penalty a few minutes later, but it was a really harsh call by the ref and Pickens made sure it didn’t cost him. It wasn’t a bad performance, but a bit disappointing after his recent run of form.
Ish Jome – 5.5: Wasteful with the ball and looked gassed after 25 minutes. Hasn’t completed a successful cross since July 26th. Came off for Akinyode at the half.
Matt LaGrassa – 6.5: Played as a no. 8 in the first half, and a withdrawn forward in the second. It looked like he just had an off night. Struggled to complete passes that usually look routine for him, and had no real ideas in the final third.
Michael Reed – 8.0: You can’t strike a ball much better than he did for his first ever goal in a Nashville shirt. Otherwise, he controlled the midfield and consistently looked to make things happen in the final third, creating four chances for Nashville. A pretty good showing overall.
Alan Winn – 6.5: Busy without being productive, which is turning into the story of his season. Did really well to isolate defenders and attack them 1v1, but consistently took extra touches or dribbled back into traffic instead of playing a ball to an open teammate in the box. He has all the talent in the world, but needs to grow in his situational awareness. His biggest contribution was drawing a red card from Aguinaga. Replaced by Woodberry in second half stoppage time.
Tucker Hume – 7.5: Occupied the defense all night and got in good positions in the final third. Didn’t get a ton of service, and his lack of pace limits his effectiveness when he’s isolated up top. Overall, though, a good showing. Made way for Tyrpak in the 66th.
Ropapa Mensah – 8.5: Nashville’s best player on the night. Used his pace well to get behind the defense, ran at defenders with speed, worked the ball into good spots, and consistently looked to find teammates in the box. He’s shown a flexibility in recent games to bounce between central and wide roles, and he’s in a really good run of form.
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Bolu Akinyode – 7.5: Replaced Jome at halftime and slotted in as a no. 6, allowing Reed and LaGrassa to push forward more. Did his job well.
Kris Tyrpak – 6.0: Replaced Hume with 24 minutes to play and didn’t have much impact, other than winning a couple of free-kicks in wide positions.
London Woodberry – N/R: Replaced Winn for the final three minutes in a pretty surprising substitution and slotted in as a third center back. Touched the ball once.
MANAGER
Gary Smith – 4.5: Playing in a must-win game, against a team who hasn’t won on the road all year, he was excessively conservative and set up a team with limited ideas in attack. It’s becoming all too familiar for Nashville fans. To his credit he started an unchanged lineup and gave Mensah and Winn freedom to find space in the final third, but he has no excuses for not being more aggressive after going up a man. His decision to bring on another center back and play with a back five in stoppage time was shocking.

Wild first half sees Nashville SC draw with New York

Looking for points for their hopes of a late playoff push, Nashville SC was in dire need of a victory at home against New York Red Bulls II at First Tennessee Park.

However, the Boys in Gold could only muster a 1-1 draw in a match that saw an action-packed first half, but neither team could create any magic in the ensuing second half to separate themselves.

The first half might have been one of the wildest Nashville fans have witnessed all season. A careless mistake by Justin Davis to not clear the ball in the 5th minute out of Nashville’s own box led to a New York goal. Jared Stroud collected the dispossessed ball and put in a low cross, which Amando Moreno was able to capitalize on.

The Red Bulls almost doubled their delight a few minutes later, when a penalty was called on a questionable foul in the box from Taylor Washington.

Pickens was easily able to read the direction of Tom Barlow’s low shot to the left, however, and preserved the one-goal deficit.

The Red Bulls did themselves no favors moving forward. A very malicious slide tackle from Jose Aguinaga on Alan Winn led to a red card.

The Boys in Gold were able to capitalize on the opportunity, with the captain Michael Reed burying a low free kick in the 26th minute.

The two teams had their fair share of chances to close out the first half, but neither could really convert and separate themselves from one another.

Nashville came dangerously close to taking the lead in the 64th minute. Ropapa Mensah was able to beat a defender on the line near the goal. As he crossed the ball in, it took an awkward deflection off a Red Bull and was heading in toward goal. Hassan Ndam, despite banging it off the cross bar, was able to clear the ball off the line to save the Red Bulls from going down a goal.

Nashville SC also had a chance to win on a last second corner on a Justin Davis bicycle from a Michael Reed corner, but he was called offside.

The draw puts Nashville SC level with North Carolina FC and Ottawa Fury on points with 44, but both teams have the edge over the Boys in Gold in the standings due to them having more wins. It is also the final fixture in the month of September, a month in which Nashville was only able to produce one victory in six contests. New York remains one point behind Nashville with 43 points.

Nashville hopes to continue its push for the playoffs next Saturday at Richmond Kickers, with kickoff slated for 6 p.m.

Player Ratings: Nashville SC vs. Charleston Battery

The guys at Speedway Soccer Pod are back with their latest player ratings, this time breaking down the rainy 1-1 draw against Charleston.

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Matt Pickens – 5.0: Made a terrible decision to punch a free kick back into a crowd of players, gifting Charleston with a goal. The weather definitely impacted the decision, but if he had held onto the ball, Nashville would have walked away with a crucial win. Other than that, he was only called on twice.

Kosuke Kimura – 6.5: Linked up well with Jome in the first half and Winn in the second half, but otherwise pretty quiet. Wasn’t tested much defensively.
Justin Davis – 7.0: The natural left back played as a right center back after Woodberry was dropped and Bourgeois was recovering from injury. Had a pretty strong showing. Wasn’t asked to do a whole lot defensively but was strong passing the ball out of the back. Drew a red card from Okonkwo in the 60th minute.
Liam Doyle – 7.0: About the same as Davis. Solid on both sides of the ball.
Taylor Washington – 6.5: Linked up well with Winn in the first half, although he wasn’t really asked to play the final ball much. Worked hard in the second half, but was really limited by being stuck in the middle of the infield swamp.
Ish Jome – 5.5: Really, really quiet all night. Moved to the left wing in the second half and wasn’t helped by the field conditions on that side. Withdrawn for Mensah after 69 minutes.
Matt LaGrassa – 6.5: Linked play well and tried to push the tempo, but his final ball was a bit off. Really needed to test the keeper more from range given the conditions.
Michael Reed – 6.0: Didn’t get forward as much as LaGrassa, probably by design. Like LaGrassa, really needed to test the keeper more.
Alan Winn – 6.0: Caused problems on the edge of the box, but his final ball was disappointing. Didn’t attempt a shot in 84 minutes on the field. Replaced by Shroot.
Lebo Moloto – 7.0: Had a very lively start to the game and looked like Nashville’s most dangerous player. Landed awkwardly on his knee after reaching for a long ball over the top. Was able to walk off the field on his own, but at first glance it looks like a serious, potentially season-ending injury.
Tucker Hume – 7.5: Managed Nashville’s only shot on target, an audacious over-the-head attempt that slipped through Cooper’s hands for a goal. Was a target in the box all night, but wasn’t able to direct many of Nashville’s 41 crosses on goal. One of the few players who seemed willing to take a shot.

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Brandon Allen – 5.0:  Replaced the injured Moloto after 31 minutes, and was very uninvolved. Only touched the ball 16 times in his 60+ minutes on the pitch (for contrast, Moloto had 14 touches in 27 minutes). His biggest contribution was a missed half volley with the net gaping. He’s really faded recently.

Ropapa Mensah – 7.0: Replaced Jome in the 69th minute and brought a lot of energy to the match. Got onto the end of service into the box and stretched the defense well. Attempted three shots in his 20+ minutes on the field (only Hume had more). Ultimately couldn’t get a winner, but had a good showing.
Robin Shroot – N/R: Made his first appearance in 121 days (last appearance was May 24th in the Open Cup, with his last USL appearance coming on April 14th against Indy) and understandably looked rusty. Didn’t have time to impact the game at all.
MANAGER
Gary Smith – 4.0: Was unfortunate that a poor decision and bad weather led to Charleston’s goal. Other than that, not many positives from a coaching perspective. His team only took one shot on target (in the ninth minute), and only took eight shots in the remaining 86 minutes. Instead of instructing his team to test the keeper and take advantage of the weather (which had already led to one goal for Nashville), he instead attempted 41 crosses, which have been proven to be one of the more ineffective methods of chance creation. Had two home games in a week, and needed points from both. Instead, they got 1 point from two must-win games and are three spots outside playoff position with five games remaining, two of which are on the road, and two of which are at home to teams ahead of them in the table. It’s been a really bad stretch of games for Nashville, and his overly conservative and limited approach is at the forefront.