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.

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