Player ratings: Nashville SC vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies

The guys at Speedway Soccer Pod are back, this time they’ve got player ratings from Tuesday tough 2-1 loss against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Make sure you go check out their latest episode here.


Matt Pickens – 6.5: Put in a really tough position when Hristov was played through, but dove in for the ball when Hristov was going away from goal. Could do absolutely nothing to prevent Woodberry’s own goal, and didn’t have much else to do.

Kosuke Kimura – 8.0: Despite the scoreline, had one of his better games of the year. Put in a gorgeous ball to Moloto at the back post and had more great service throughout the night.

Bradley Bourgeois – 7.0: Got caught high up the pitch when Reed went to clear a ball that Bourgeois was calling for and left a ton of space behind him. Other than that was solid until he was forced off by injury in the 53rd minute. The result may have been different had he been able to finish the game.

Liam Doyle – 6.5: Had a quieter night for the most part, but made a really poor decision to try and close down Poku, letting Hristov get in free on goal to set up the penalty kick. Other than that his biggest impact was blasting a free kick straight into the wall.

Justin Davis – 7.0: Pushed high all night and supported Winn really well. Not his most involved performance, but a mostly positive performance.

Lebo Moloto – 7.0: Took his goal brilliantly on a volley with his weak foot. Drifted in and out of the game, though, and never quite found a rhythm. Missed a header from point blank range from a fantastic Hume cross, and missed an empty net from close range in stoppage time after the keeper spilled the ball. Feels strange to give him a low mark after scoring a great goal, but if he’d taken his chances better Nashville would’ve walked away with a point.

Michael Reed – 6.0: Challenged for a ball that Bourgeois was calling for and gave it right to Poku, setting up their counter attack and penalty. Clearly misplayed a couple of easy passes and overall had a pretty quiet night.

Bolu Akinyode – 7.0: A pretty average performance by his standards. Moved the ball quickly and cleaned up messes, allowing Nashville to push high, especially in the first half when they were dominant.

Alan Winn – 7.5: Had a fantastic first half, consistently beating Gorskie and Taku on the left wing. Worked the ball really well around the 18 yard box and was key to several of Nashville’s best attacks. Faded in the second half and made way for Washington with 17 minutes to go.

Matt LaGrassa – 8.0: Played underneath Hume and looked much more comfortable centrally than he did on the wing vs North Carolina. At the heart of Nashville’s attack, worked the ball around well, and created several chances. One of the few positives in a disappointing result.

Tucker Hume – 6.0: Highly involved, not very efficient. Had several chances on goal. Two in particular he should have done better with, one a shot he put too close to the keeper from the top of the box, and another from inside the 6-yard-box where he tried to chip the keeper. If he’d kept it low and to either side of the keeper it was a certain goal. Got great service all night, and Nashville really needed better finishing to get a result. Replaced by Allen after 73 minutes.


London Woodberry – 4.5: Replaced the injured Bourgeois after 53 minutes. Never really found the game with Nashville dominating possession in the other end, but handed Tampa three points with an awful own goal. Inexplicably tried to guide the ball wide of the post, and instead headed it straight into his own net. He looked devastated after the match, with good reason.

Taylor Washington – 6.5: Replaced Winn in the 73rd minute, and brought his customary high levels of energy, but never really got involved.

Brandon Allen – 6.0: Came on for Hume after 73 minutes, and only touched the ball 4 times in his 24 minutes on the pitch. Had a chance from close range deep into stoppage time, and put it straight at the keeper.


Gary Smith – 4.5: It may seem harsh to blame him when the team didn’t finish their chances, but his team has struggled to finish chances all year and haven’t shown any consistent signs of improvement. This game was absolutely a must-win for Nashville, and they couldn’t find a way to break through. A loss on Saturday will put Nashville’s playoff hopes in jeopardy, and should put Smith under significant pressure as well. He has to figure out a way to make this lifeless attack semi-functional if Nashville wants to get into the playoffs.

Nashville SC’s playoff hopes take a hit with Tampa Bay loss

Nashville SC’s playoff hopes in its inaugural season took a serious hit with a 2-1 loss against the Tampa Bay Rowdies Tuesday night at First Tennessee Park.

An own goal in the 69th minute sealed Nashville’s fate. Tampa substitute Junior Flemmings put in a low cross that hit off the head of London Woodberry on the far side and into his own net.

“Very disappointing opening five minutes, of course, to concede. Looking back at halftime, and we had the ability to look at how the goal was scored, there were, as we could see from a defensive angle, a couple of errors. Certainly, we didn’t recover quick enough, a bit of overcompensating in certain areas of the back line. Not a bright enough start, not a good start at all, of course.  I thought the response was good, the goal was a very decent one. We exploited the wider areas to a pretty decent degree. Did we get what I would have liked constantly from it? The answer to that would have to be no,” said Nashville SC coach Gary Smith.

Tampa Bay got an early penalty six minutes into the match when Matt Pickens, honored pregame for his 300th appearance as a professional player,  attempted to make a save on a breakaway. Georgi Hristov buried it from the spot.

“So obviously (Kwadwo) Poku breaks out, and he’s coming up, and obviously Georgi (Hristov) makes his run I think off Liam (Doyle)’s shoulder, and I know there’s a big gap between Liam and Bradley (Bourgeois), so I know Bradley was going to be recovering for it,” Pickens said when recalling the goal.

“I knew exactly what Georgi was going to do for the most part, but obviously I’ve still got to be prepared if he’s going to shoot the ball, and my angle to come out was to block the goal first. Georgi had no intention of shooting the ball, so he takes a touch, it goes that way out of bounds and the slightest of touches and the ref’s going to call it. Georgi knows what he’s doing. I mean Georgi knows exactly what he’s doing, but that’s the play.”

The Boys in Gold would answer back in the 20th minute. Kosuke Kimura, who was also honored pregame for his 300th appearance, crossed in an absolute gem of a cross from the right side. The cross found Lebo Moloto making a back post run, who one-timed the service in with a half volley.

There were plenty of other dangerous chances from Nashville in the first half, including a chip shot from Tucker Hume that was cleared off the line.

Nashville came into Tuesday’s game in ninth place, two points shy of being in playoff position and three away from leap-frogging Ottawa Fury FC and New York Red Bulls II in the standings for seventh place. So needless to say, points were crucial in this fixture with it being a home match.

Now Nashville has dug itself in a hole with the loss. In its five previous matches, Nashville had only one win under its belt. You can make that six after tonight.

The good news for Nashville is that there are still plenty of points to be had in the coming weeks. Only two of its final six games are against teams in the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference.

Nashville will now turn its attention to Saturday when it hosts Charleston Battery at First Tennessee Park.

Nashville SC Player Ratings: vs. NCFC

The guys at Speedway Soccer Pod are back with their player ratings, this time they recap the exciting come-from-behind 3-3 draw against North Carolina FC.




Matt Pickens – 4.5: Despite a deflection on the first goal, he could have done better. Slow to react on the free kick goal, even though the wall was set up to force Rios to shoot towards the far post. Should’ve done better. Wasn’t helped by poor defending on the third goal, but again was slow to react. On top of this he didn’t make a save all night. An uncharacteristically poor showing.

Kosuke Kimura – 8.0: The best of Nashville’s defense. Safe with the ball and got involved in the attack well.
Bradley Bourgeois – 6.5: Not directly at fault for any of North Carolina’s goals, but a poor attempted clearance put Doyle under a lot of pressure on the third. Not a bad performance, but not up to his usual standards. On a positive note, his effectiveness passing the ball has increased all season and he’s contributing a lot to the attack with solid distribution.
Liam Doyle – 5.0: Slow to close down Shipalane for the opener and got a touch that deflected it past Pickens. A really bad attempted clearance perfectly set up Steinberger to volley home North Carolina’s third. Earned a penalty kick after his free kick hit a defender in the hand, but that was about his only positive contribution.
Matt LaGrassa – 6.5: Started out with on the right but moved centrally after the break. Worked hard but had limited impact.
Michael Reed – 6.0: Completed nearly 97 percent of his passes, but failed to keep his shots on target. He was the closest Shipalane after the ball was turned over and tracked back, but never got into position to make a tackle and let him get the shot off. Hesitant to close down Steinberger for North Carolina’s third and again allowed him to get the shot off. Very industrious, but not much end product.
Bolu Akinyode – 6.5: His job in this team is to clean up messes, keep the ball moving, and give others the freedom to get forward. Did that well for the most part, but with his team in a two-goal deficit at the break, was withdrawn for more attacking fire power.
Taylor Washington – 8.0: As always, a high energy performance. Put in some dangerous crosses and took advantage of the space afforded to him. Moved to left back after Davis was withdrawn, and continued to bomb forward. He’s in a great run of form.
Lebo Moloto – 7.0: Gets credit for the equalizing goal, albeit a goal that needed a massive deflection to go in. Only managed a single shot and wasn’t able to create any meaningful chances. Was responsible for an amazingly sloppy giveaway to set up North Carolina’s opening goal.
Ropapa Mensah – 6.5: Ran hard but never really got involved. Came off at halftime for Brandon Allen.
Alan Winn – 6.5: Replaced Bolu Akinyode at halftime in a very attack minded substitution, but didn’t really pay off. His crossing was poor, he couldn’t manage a shot, and never really clicked with his teammates.
Brandon Allen – 9.0: Didn’t get much service, but cooly dispatched two penalties. In a game like this one, you can only take the chances you get and he did that well.
Tucker Hume – 7.5: Replaced Justin Davis in the 68th minute and did really well to earn a penalty kick 11 minutes later. Brought down the ball really well before being dragged back. Given the form he’s in, one might wonder why he didn’t start.
Gary Smith – 6.0: Credit to him for making aggressive substitutions and fighting back to earn a point, but the team started sluggishly and continues to drop points they really need. Sure, his team scored three, but two were penalties and one took an incredibly fortuitous deflection, and they gave up three of the sloppiest goals of the season. The offense had no real ideas, and created no real chances (0.397 xG). Nashville will probably squeeze into the playoffs, but questions should be asked if these performances are good enough, and that starts with the manager

Fearless Forecast: Nashville SC vs. NCFC


Yes, Jim Mora, despite Nashville SC’s recent 1-0 loss to Charlotte Independence, the Boys in Gold are still in the hunt for a playoff spot in the USL Eastern Conference. With eight games to go in the regular season, however, Nashville has little to no room to make any mistakes and cannot afford to drop points.

Nashville will once again head to the Tar Heel state to take North Carolina FC Saturday.  If you’ll recall, this occurred the last time these two sides clash.

Ropapa Mensah’s late winner is arguably one of the top moments this season. However, the stoppage-time goal seems very distant. After that match, Nashville has gone 4-3-6 and have slid down to ninth place in the Eastern Conference. Currently sitting outside the playoff bubble with 38 points and tied with Ottawa Fury for that last spot, a win would go a long way in helping Nashville reach its playoff potential.

North Carolina FC is 4-1-3 in its last eight contests, including a victory against top-4 side Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

Here’s what Nashville SC coach Gary Smith had to say about the upcoming match, and what his side needs to do to convert on chances:

“I think if we can get ourselves out in front and convert those moments, I think the full focus and mindset of the weekend will be without a shadow of a doubt to try and get ourselves on the front foot and to get ourselves in a positive position. We proved that in Charlotte, we took the game to them, and we will continue to do that this weekend. We will be bright and positive and a team out there that can win the game, but what we also know is that they are a side fighting for a playoff berth exactly the same as us, and we have to make sure that we play with a level of professionalism that I think deserted us one or two times on the weekend. What I mean is the corner that was scored against us was a poor decision from one of the lads who missed his mark and someone end up free and they score. Even little things on the other end where we do have ideas on what we want to achieve, and we squandered a big opportunity which really should have been a penalty, but those professional moments can make a big difference. We certainly have to be mindful of a good home side who I don’t think are much different from other teams in this league, ourselves included. At home they are a very different prospect than playing away.”

Kickoff is slated for 4 p.m., and the game can be watched locally on MyTV30 and streamed on ESPN+.

Fearless Forecast

Andy Simmons, Golden Goal

0-0 draw

MOTM: Liam Doyle

Fearless Forecast: Nashville outshoots NCFC and out possesses them


Wes Boling, Golden Goal

2-0 NCFC

MOTM: Bolu Akinyode

Fearless Forecast: Nashville will have 60% possession, but will attempt fewer shots on target than NCFC


Ben Wright, Speedway Soccer Pod

2-1 NCFC

Goal: Tucker Hume

MOTM: Michael Reed

Fearless Forecast: Nashville gives up an early goal and take a lot of shots, but doesn’t create and clear chances.



Jonathan Slape, Speedway Soccer Pod

1-0 NCFC

MOTM: Michael Reed

Fearless Forecast: NSC takes 70% of shots outside the box


Player Ratings: Nashville SC vs. Charlotte Independence

The guys at Speedway Soccer Pod are back with their player ratings, this time they look back at the 1-0 road defeat against Charlotte Independence.


CJ Cochran – 6.0: Didn’t see Watson’s shot until late, but still could have done better. Other than that didn’t have much to do.

Kosuke Kimura – 6.5: Pretty solid defensively, but wasn’t very effective in the attack.
Bradley Bourgeois – 7.0: Really good defensively, and continued to build on his recent showings in the passing game, completing 88 percent. Missed a header from close range in the 90th minute.
London Woodberry – 7.0: Like Bourgeois, strong defensively, limiting Charlotte to no real chances and only one shot in the second half. Completed 91 percent of his passes and composed throughout.
Ryan James – 6.5: Like Kimura, he wasn’t super involved going forward, although he did link well with Washington a couple of times.
Alan Winn – 6.5: Worked really hard all night and had some dangerous moments, although he wasn’t as clinical as he should have been and held onto the ball too long a couple of times. Put a beautiful cross right on Hume’s head but he couldn’t convert.
Matt LaGrassa – 6.5: Energetic and hard working. Linked well with Akinyode and Moloto, and looked really dangerous to start the second half, but picked up a knock a few minutes after the break and came off in the 53rd minute.
Bolu Akinyode – 7.0: Typically strong defensively and moved the ball well, completing 95 percent of his passes. Hard to fault him for missing chances when that’s clearly not his role in this team, but he should’ve done better with two headers from close range.
Taylor Washington – 7.0: High energy and strong delivery from wide positions, as usual. Moved back to left back after James went off and overlapped well. A strong showing, although he’ll be frustrated with some poor finishing from his forwards.
Lebo Moloto – 6.0: Started out brightly but faded as the game went on. Had a great chance from 10 yards out that was tipped onto the post.
Tucker Hume – 6.0: Got into good positions and occupied the center backs well. Had a fantastic chance after Winn crossed a beautiful ball that found him unmarked in the 6-yard-box. Put his header over when he absolutely should be expected to score there. Saw a strong shot saved late in the game. Played well, but as a forward it’s his job to score from those positions, and if Nashville had taken a 1-0 lead, things may have turned out very differently.
Michael Reed – 8.0: Replaced the injured LaGrassa after 53 minutes and picked right back up where he left off against Richmond. Completed every pass he attempted and had some fantastic delivery from set pieces. Like others, he’ll be frustrated with the poor finishing from Nashville’s forwards.
Kris Tyrpak – 5.5: Replaced James after 60 minutes and went off injured 20 minutes later. Never really got involved.
Brandon Allen – N/R: Replaced the injured Tyrpak in the 80th minute and didn’t make an impact.
Gary Smith – 5.0: It feels a little harsh to give such a low rating, but it’s the cumulative result of consistently poor results on the road. His team defended well and should’ve scored a couple, despite not creating a high number of chances. His substitutions were forced by injury, but the results still aren’t there. His team has been outscored 12 to 7 on the road. They’ve only earned one point after conceding first, and are 2-6-6 on the road. With an away playoff game looking increasingly inevitable, he needs to figure out these attacking issues quickly.