Mensah’s late winner pushes Nashville unbeaten streak to 11

Nashville SC has extended its unbeaten run to 11 games.

For much of the game, it seemed like the game was going to result in a draw.

Enter super sub Ropapa Mensah, whose late heroics on Michael Reed’s free kick resulted in a 1-0 victory in the dying moments of stoppage time Saturday night.

Reed whipped in a free kick to the far post, where Bradley Bourgeious headed it into the danger zone. Mensah, who once again leads all Nashville SC scorers with five goals, poked the ball in from the scramble in the box. The win also moves Nashville into fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings.

“I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest to be honest,” said Bourgeious after he saw the goal hit the back of the net.

“I couldn’t hear, I was just screaming, I was turning around and everybody was running around, I was looking at Gary and he was off the bench. Guys were running everywhere, but I would just say my heart was beating out of my chest there. I was just so, so happy.”

 

Nashville’s lineup displayed above had some slight modifications. It lined up with Matt LaGrassa as a right winger, with Brandon Allen up top and Ish Jome to the left. Michael Reed and Lebo Moloto occupied the middle of the park, while Bolu Akinyode acted as a center defensive midfielder. Justin Davis, Liam Doyle, Bradley Bourgeois, and Kosuke Kimura formed the back line.

There wasn’t much separating the two sides in the first half, as both had their fair share of chances that they were unable to capitalize on. Both teams combined for a total of 16 shots (nine for Nashville, seven for Carolina), but were only able to put three on target (Nashville had two).

Lebo Moloto came closest in the 36th minute to putting the Boys in Gold ahead. A ball in the air was one-timed by LaGrassa into the path of Moloto, who connected with a shot that slid just past the far post of the goal.

Matt LaGrassa also had a wonderful opportunity prior to Moloto’s chance. His header looked like it was going into the top corner of the far post until Alex Tambakis tipped the attempt over the bar.

The match played out similarly to Argentina vs. Iceland in the World Cup earlier today, where one team dominated possession and the other absorbed as much pressure as possible. Nashville took the possession advantage 64-36, but still couldn’t capitalize on any of its chances until the late winner.

“I’m not quite sure where to start. You certainly don’t get too many of these evenings. There’s so much excitement in the final moments,” said Nashville SC coach Gary Smith.

“As the second half unfolded, it was going to be about patience, some individual moments, good combination play to break them down. I have to give a lot of credit to them. I thought they did a very good job and had a tough game in the middle of the week. We’re obviously confident coming here and for a large part of the game, while we created chances, we couldn’t find that moment. I generally feel we deserve to win. The way to came about all a part of the passion and excitement of building a brand-new club.”

Nashville now looks to a midweek date in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Wednesday at Louisville City FC. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. at Lynn Stadium on the campus of University of Louisville.

Pickens’ sensational saves place him atop Tampa player ratings

Matt Pickens returned home to his former club and made them wish he’d missed his flight.

But it wouldn’t have mattered, because the Nashville keeper grew wings of his own and soared to some sensational saves Saturday in Tampa. It’s no surprise that he stands atop the Speedway Soccer Pod’s player ratings from the match.

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Surging Nashville SC dispatches Colorado Rapids to advance in cup

In an inaugural season that has already seen plenty of history made, Nashville SC once again continued to etch its name in the record books.

The Club bested MLS side Colorado Rapids 2-0 Wednesday night in front of a rowdy group of fans at Vanderbilt Stadium to advance to the round of 16 in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Nashville faced three MLS sides during the preseason, going 1-1-1 against them. None of those matches, however, had any significant value behind them. This victory, however, has to give a side oozing with confidence even more belief that they can take on anyone.

Even though Nashville dodged a bullet in not facing U.S. goalkeeper legend Tim Howard, who was chosen to sit out this game, it still doesn’t take away from the fact that the club is showing no signs of slowing down during this unbeaten streak (now up to nine games) they’re riding.

Although the above lineup indicates a 4-1-4-1, Nashville actually elected to go with a 4-4-1-1 on the pitch. Lebo Moloto lined up on the right side of midfield, while Matt LaGrassa lagged behind Brandon Allen.

Chances on goal were few and far between in the opening period. Nashville’s best chance came on a corner kick. It appeared London Woodberry was about to connect on the service with a header, but he was shoved from behind. The ball was eventually cleared.

The Boys in Gold caught a break in the 39th minute. Justin Davis crossed in a ball from the left sideline. As the ball was coming in, Colorado defender Michael Azira attempted to clear the ball as he slid to the ground. However, the ball actually deflected off his leg and backwards into the vulnerable net for the 1-0 lead.

Ropapa Mensah came on as a substitute in the 77th minute and made an immediate impact. One minute later, he was able to get on the end of Liam Doyle’s half-volley cross from the left side of the field and tuck it into side netting to make it 2-0.

Nashville continued its strong defensive play throughout the second half, limiting Colorado to only a handful of looks on goal, and no shots on target. It was fairly pedestrian game for Matt Pickens against his former club, whose only real action was a punched clearance.

Nashville returns to USL action Saturday, when the club takes a trip to the Sunshine State to face the Tampa Bay Rowdies.