After three games in the USL and a 1-1-1 record, Nashville SC is still looking for a statement win. Tonight’s match against the Charlotte Independence represents a golden opportunity for the Boys in Gold to show the rest of the league they belong.
Charlotte is unbeaten and in first place of the Eastern Conference with seven points and a 2-0-1 record. This will be the Jacks first road game of the season. The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. from First Tennessee Park and will be broadcast locally on MyTV30 and streamed online at nashvillesc.com.
“They are confident and have had a good start, seven points in three matches and top of the league,” said Nashville SC coach Gary Smith. “They show a lot of the same qualities they have shown in previous seasons. I see a typical Mike Jeffries coached team.”
Building Momentum From Last Week’s Win
After being shut out after two games, Michael Cox broke through for Nashville with the game winning penalty kick against Bethlehem Steel FC last Saturday. Cox was pulled to the ground in the fifth minute on a clear scoring opportunity resulting in a red card to Bethlehem’s Brandon Aubrey.
After being held to two shots on goal per game, Nashville’s attack finally found a spark against Bethlehem. The Boys in Gold finished with 12 shots, seven on target.
“Last week we had some exciting chances, much more than the previous two weeks. We want to continue to be a threat to the backline,” said Smith. “I am very keen, and I have stressed to the players, that we are bright and purposeful.”
Hopefully, Nashville can build off of this performance and ignite their supporters with an early goal. Smith said he wants the fans to create a tough atmosphere for opposing teams when they visit First Tennessee Park.
“We need to take advantage of being back at home as much as possible,” said Smith. “We’ll have to make full use of the environment of our home field and our fans.”
Washington, Winn Make Strong Case to Stay in Starting Lineup
Alan Winn and Taylor Washington made the most of their first starts of the season against Bethlehem last week.
Winn played up top at the beginning of the game and then moved to the right wing finding dangerous areas and creating scoring opportunities. The 22-year-old forward put three shots on target and had a couple successful crosses.
“I am very blessed to get my first start, and I hope to get more as I will always continue to do my job on a consistent basis at a high level,” said Winn.
Washington finally cracked the starting XI after demonstrating his tenacity and pace as sub against Louisville City and Pittsburgh. The 24-year-old winger was able to stretch the field against Bethlehem along the left side creating three scoring chances and completing two crosses.
“It was a blessing to get the win, and as a player that wants to help the team the best way and in every way I can, I’m thankful that I was able to bring pace, hard work and grit to the field alongside Alan on the wings,” said Washington.
Smith has put out a different starting XI in each game this season, but Winn and Washington made a strong case to keep their spots.
Taming Charlotte’s Attack
The Jacks have scored eight goals this season, which is the most in the Eastern Conference. Their attack is led by Jorge Herrera, Cordell Cato and Caleb Calvert. This group doesn’t miss when they take a shot. Charlotte has converted 29 percent of its chances this season, which is the best in the USL.
Nashville’s defense should be up to the test. The Boys in Gold have posted back-to-back clean sheets and have only allowed 3.33 shots on target a game. Nashville goalkeeper Matt Pickens performed well between the sticks organizing the backline led by Justin Davis, Liam Doyle and Bradley Bourgeois.
“Having a clean sheet means the whole team is doing its job. Zero on the scoreboard for the other team means that we’ve at least gained a point and that starts from the forwards all the way to the goalkeepers,” Washington said. “Coach Gary has done a phenomenal job of showing and instructing us exactly how he wants us to press and defend. We have to continue to improve in all areas to assure the results we desire.”
A big question for today is if defender David Edgar makes an appearance for Nashville against Charlotte. The Canadian International was signed on Wednesday and is coming off a knee injury.
Charlotte Independence Fast Facts
Team: Charlotte Independence
- Affiliation: Colorado Rapids
- Stadium: Sportsplex at Matthews (2,300)
- Charlotte’s stadium is the anchor of a 12-field soccer complex southeast of downtown
- The team made its debut there in 2017
- Coach: Mike Jeffries (5th season)
- Jeffries coached the MLS’s Dallas Burn (now FC Dallas) from 2001 to 2003
- He won the Hermann trophy in 1983, which is given to the nation’s top male college soccer player
- Jeffries made three appearances for the U.S. national team in the mid-1980s
- First Season: 2014
- 2017 Finish: 13-10-9 (Lost in Conference Quarterfinals to Rochester, 2-1)
- Best-ever Finish: 2016 (14-8-8, Conference Quarterfinals)
- Supporters’ Groups: Jack’s Militia, QC Royals, Slogic Army
- Three Fun Facts:
- The team is named after the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, a document that some claim was the first such declaration in the American colonies (although some historians dispute this)
- Charlotte was one of the best teams in possession in 2017, ranking third in passes and passing accuracy
- The Independence had six players sent off in 2017 — second-most in the league