Nashville SC defeated North Carolina FC in thrilling fashion last Saturday using every second of extra time allowed. Here’s how the Speedway Soccer Pod team rated each player’s performance.
Gary Smith – 7.0: The team started out slowly in the first half, but looked much more threatening in the second. They took a total of 21 shots and had an xG of 2.6, and were rather unlucky to only score one. Smith was hesitant to make substitutions, and his decision not to bring on a third substitution while chasing a goal was a little surprising, but it didn’t end up costing him two points.
Matt Pickens – 8.0: Pickens only had to make two saves, but he organized the back line well and his leadership and on-field coaching was key to getting three points.
Kosuke Kimura – 8.5: Again, very involved in the attack and teamed up well with Bourgeois to shut down most of NCFC’s attacks down Nashville’s right flank.
Bradley Bourgeois – 9.0: I sound like a broken record, but he’s Nashville’s best center back. Solid passing out of the back, strong in the tackle, unbeatable in the air, and a consistent threat from set pieces (he has taken the third most shots of any NSC player with 12). He came up with the assist for Mensah’s winner, but even without the assist he would have been my Man of the Match.
Liam Doyle – 8.0: Drew the ire of Matt Pickens several times in the first half for slow and sloppy passing, but picked it up in the second. Wasn’t strong enough in the air a couple times, but didn’t get punished for it.
Justin Davis – 8.0: Like Doyle, a bit slow and sometimes careless on the ball. Still, he got up and back on the left wing industriously, and really contributed to Nashville’s late press for a winner.
Matt LaGrassa – 8.0: Tends to drift more centrally than a typical right midfielder, letting Kimura overlap to great effect. Didn’t take as many shots as you’d like to see, and was needlessly caught offsides once, but created three chances. Replaced by Alan Winn after 79 minutes.
Michael Reed – 8.5: A really industrious showing from the captain. Completed 91 percent of his passes and really pushed the tempo. He had clear shooting lanes on multiple occasions, but wouldn’t pull the trigger.
Bolu Akinyode – 8.5: Completed 93 percent of his passes, including an astounding 97 percent in NCFC’s half. That being said, he was slow on the ball a few times in the first half and wasn’t always as aggressive with the ball as needed. Turned it around after the break, though, and his tackling and ball recovery is key to how the Boys In Gold play.
Ish Jome – 9.0: A strong candidate for Man of the Match. Not afraid to be direct and take on defenders, which is a nice change from some of Nashville’s other wide players. Dangerous shooting with either foot, and created a couple chances to boot. He’s really carving out a role for himself in this team.
Lebo Moloto – 8.0: Played as a withdrawn forward in a pretty free role, and found a good bit of space underneath Allen. Wasn’t afraid to take a shot, and created three chances for his teammates. Didn’t get the end product he probably deserved, but put in a good shift.
Brandon Allen – 6.0: Wasn’t super involved. Only touched the ball once in North Carolina’s box and didn’t manage a single shot. That’s a really bad statistic for a player who thrives on chances close to the goal. Not necessarily his fault, but his lack of pace makes it hard for him to impact this type of game. Nashville looked much more threatening after Mensah replaced him in the 68th minute.
Alan Winn – 7.0: Came on for LaGrassa and brought a different element to the team with his pace and directness. His end product in the final third wasn’t always there, but he stretched the field and opened up space for his teammates.
Ropapa Mensah – 8.5: Replaced Allen for the final 22 minutes plus stoppage time, and immediately changed the game for Nashville. His pace opened up all kinds of space. Scored the winning and only goal of the match with the final touch of the game, instinctively finding space and finishing off a set piece in what was a huge moment for this team.