Player Ratings: Nashville SC vs. Richmond Kickers

The guys at Speedway Soccer Pod are back with their player ratings, this time they evaluate the 4-0 victory against Richmond. image1 (1)

Matt Pickens – 8.0: Made 5 saves, although none of them were too difficult. Was a calming presence and his distribution was on point.

Kosuke Kimura – 8.0: Had plenty of space in which to operate on the right flank and used it to good effect. Put in a great ball to LaGrassa for Nashville’s third goal.
Bradley Bourgeois – 8.5: Finally got his first goal for the Boys in Gold (wearing navy on the day) with a really well taken header from a corner. Otherwise defended solidly and completed a team-high 96.4 percent of his passes. Looked like he picked up a slight knock and came off for Woodberry after 68 minutes.
Liam Doyle – 8.0: Wasn’t tested much at all, but his passing out of the back was key to Nashville’s dominance.
Justin Davis – 7.5: Passed out of the back well, but didn’t always track back quickly enough, letting Richmond attackers in behind a couple of times. Doyle covered well for the most part, but Davis was forced to pick up a yellow card after bringing down an attacker.
Alan Winn – 7.5: Worked hard all night and got into good positions. He connected well, especially with Moloto and Kimura, but he didn’t go at defenders as aggressively as he should have done, and his end product didn’t quite come off.
Matt LaGrassa – 9.0: Started out as a #8 and played the second half as a second forward underneath Hume. His passing was on point (94.3 percent) and he opened up all kinds of space for his teammates. Took his goal really well and is in a really good run of form.
Michael Reed – 9.5: His best performance of the season. At the heart of every attack Nashville had, setting up seven of their 15 shots and getting three assists. His delivery from crosses and set pieces was on point, and Akinyode’s halftime introduction freed him up even more. He’s now tied with Moloto with a team-leading 5 assists, and his performance was one of the highlights of the season so far.
Kris Tyrpak – 7.0: Really involved, but his end product wasn’t there. Never really looked up to the tempo of the game, and was taken off at the half for “being winded”. He’s still making the transition from NPSL to USL, and may be best off the bench at this point.
Lebo Moloto – 7.5: Always composed on the ball and found some good spaces, but drifted in and out of the match, resorting to shots from distance. Not a bad performance by any means, but also not one of his best.
Tucker Hume – 9.0: Dominant in the air. Took his two headed goals really well, occupied both center backs all night, and linked play really well. His presence up top gives the team a target to play off of and adds a completely different dimension. On merit he absolutely deserves to be in the starting XI until someone can take his spot from him.
Bolu Akinyode – 8.5: Replaced Tyrpak at the break and was an immediate improvement. Freed up Reed and LaGrassa to get forward and broke up multiple Richmond attacks. It’s simple – this team is exponentially better when he’s on the pitch.
London Woodberry – 7.5: Came on for Bourgeois after 68 minutes. Didn’t have a busy night defensively, but was strong in possession.
Brandon Allen – 7.0: Replaced LaGrassa after 79 minutes and didn’t get super involved, but linked up well when he did get on the ball.
Gary Smith – 8.0: Set the team up well and made the right subs. Should expect to win at home against this quality of opposition, but deserves credit for a much-improved offensive performance than we’ve seen recently.

Fearless Forecast: Nashville SC vs. Bethlethem Steel

Nashville SC has launched a social media campaign over the last couple of days, where it has encouraged fans to share their soccer experiences in life and with the club using the hashtag #MySoccerStory.

The soccer story movement has been a fantastic way to get fans involved and let the club know they are supported in anticipation of Monday night’s pivotal Metro Council meeting that will determine the future of MLS in Nashville.

On the field, Nashville’s soccer story is still that it’s fighting for a playoff position. Although the Boys in Gold are unbeaten in their last three matches, including ties against top-four sides FC Cincinnati and Louisville City FC, they still find themselves on the outside of the USL Eastern Conference playoff picture.

With a couple of games in hand, however, the next two home fixtures provide Nashville a massive opportunity to leap as high as fifth in the standings, pending the results of the other matches this weekend as well.

Nashville’s opponent Saturday, Bethlethem Steel, will not be a pushover given their current run of form. The Philadelphia Union affiliate has won five of its last six matches, propelling it all the way up to fifth place in the Eastern Conference and tied for points with Indy Eleven at 39.

Team: Bethlehem Steel FC

  • Affiliation: Philadelphia Union
  • Stadium: Goodman Stadium (16,000)
    • Goodman Stadium is home to Lehigh University’s football team
    • The stadium also hosted Philadelphia Eagles training camp from 1996-2012
  • Coach: Brendan Burke (3rd season)
    • Burke began his coaching career as manager of Reading United in the U.S. PDL, where he went a remarkable 71-18-19
    • He played as a center back for teams in the U.S. and Ireland
  • First Season: 2016
  • 2017 Finish: 12-12-8 (lost in Conference Quarterfinals (4-0, Louisville City FC)
  • Best-ever Finish: 2017 (Conference Quarterfinals)
  • Supporters’ Group: East End Army
  • Three Fun Facts:
    1. The team’s name and colors are a tribute to Bethlehem Steel F.C., which played from 1907-1930 and won five U.S. Open Cups — tied for the most in U.S. soccer history
    2. The colors of Bethlehem Steel FC are navy blue, gold and red, combining the primary colors of both the original Bethlehem Steel F.C. and the Philadelphia Union
    3. The Steel won only two of their final 10 matches in 2017 (2-3-5)

Here’s what Nashville SC coach Gary Smith had to say about the match.

Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. at First Tennessee Park. You can watch the game on MyTV30, stream on ESPN+, or listen to 94.9 Game 2.


Fearless Forecasts

Since Wes Boling of Golden Goal is calling the match for 94.9, he has elected to not make a prediction.


Andy Simmons, Golden Goal

1-0 Nashville

Goal: Ropapa Mensah

MOTM: Matt Pickens

Forecast: Mensah comes on and scores a late-winner.


Jonathan Slape, Speedway Soccer

2-0 Nashville

Goals: Lebo Moloto and Brando Allen

MOTM: Lebo Moloto

Forecast: Chris Tyrpak gets his first minutes for NSC


Ben Wright, Speedway Soccer

1-0 Nashville

Goal: Ropapa Mensah

MOTM: Mensah

Forecast: Tucker Hume creates the most chances of any NSC player




Nashville SC player ratings vs. Ottawa Fury FC

The guys at Speedway Soccer Pod are back with their Nashville SC player evaluations and ratings, this time recapping the positives from the 2-0 victory against Ottawa Fury FC Friday night.

Screenshot_2018-08-14 Lineup Builder

Matt Pickens – 8.0: Didn’t have an incredibly busy night, but was aggressive off his line when called on and made three saves.

London Woodberry – 8.5: Started on the right side of a back three. Solid defensively and really good in possession. Came close to scoring on a floated header that nearly caught Crépeau  off his line. Moved to right back once Bourgeois was introduced.
Liam Doyle – 8.5: Had a really strong outing. Aggressive with his forward passing and picked out pockets of space well. Made 11 clearances and popped up in good areas defensively, including a goal-saving clearance in the 81st minute. One of his better performances of the season. 
Justin Davis – 8.0: A veteran defensive performance. At times wasn’t patient enough in possession, opting for a ball over the top instead of finding an open teammate, but overall a good night.
Ish Jome – 8.0: Worked tirelessly from the right wingback spot. Consistently found himself in good 1v1 spots and consistently burned his defender to get to the endline. His service into the box didn’t always find a forward, but dangerous all night. Came off for Bourgeois after 65 minutes.
Matt LaGrassa – 8.5: Continued his good run of form with his first USL goal for Nashville. Got in good spots all night and sees space really well. Another strong showing. Voted Man of the Match by the fans.
Michael Reed – 8.0: Played as the lone holder in a 3-1-4-2, and covered a ton of ground. Kept the ball moving well and made a few key tackles. Good night.
Lebo Moloto – 9.0: Nashville’s most dangerous player on the night. Played in a deeper role than usual, and was inventive all game. Linked up well with Washington and LaGrassa, and got the assist for LaGrassa’s opener. Came off for Akinyode after 80 minutes.
Taylor Washington – 8.5: Used his pace really well and consistently put in good service to the box. Created the most chances of any Nashville player (three) and looks really comfortable at that left wingback spot.
Brandon Allen – 8.0: Had three shots on target, one of which was the penalty, and the other two coming within a couple seconds of each other. Worked really hard, even though he wasn’t as involved as he’d like to be. Scored Nashville’s second with a well-taken penalty.
Tucker Hume – 8.5: Other than Moloto, Nashville’s best player. Got into plenty of dangerous spots, troubled the defense with his size, and held up the ball well. Did well to earn a penalty in the second half. Replaced by Mensah after 70 minutes after putting in another strong shift. This team has a different dynamic when he starts, and it’s worked well the past two matches.
Bradley Bourgeois – 8.0: Came back earlier than expected after a month out through injury, and looked like he hadn’t missed a minute. Made a couple key interventions defensively. It will be really important to this team’s playoff push to have him healthy.
Ropapa Mensah – 7.5: Replaced Hume after 70 minutes and caused problems. Had a good shot go just wide and stretched the field as always. Good showing.
Bolu Akinyode 8.0: Came on with 10 minutes left to play in place of Moloto, and helped Nashville close the game out. Completed a cool 92 percent of his passes and did well to maintain possession late in the game.
Gary Smith – 8.5: His switch to a back 3 has really revitalized this team, and they put in another strong performance against a playoff-caliber team. For the second straight game they’ve looked creative in the final third, and his incorporation of Tucker Hume into the starting XI has paid off. Hopefully this is the start of a strong playoff push.

Fearless Forecast: Nashville SC vs. FC Cincinnati

Like two ships passing in the night, Nashville SC and F.C. Cincinnati have been heading in opposite directions since their previous 0-0 draw July 7 at Nissan Stadium.

Now, the Boys in Gold head up to the home of Skyline Chili Saturday to take on the USL Eastern Conference’s top team with 44 points. Cincy is on a 10-match unbeaten run in the USL that stretches over a two-month span and have scored multiple goals in nine of those 10 matches. The only time FCC hasn’t scored multiple goals was the trip to Nashville.

Cincy also boosted its roster with three new players that expected to be part of its core once it makes the shift to MLS next season. The biggest of these signings is Fanendo Adi, who could make his debut with the club against Nashville. The talisman scored 50 goals in 120 appearances for Portland Timbers during his four-year stint there.

Meanwhile, Nashville is coming off an abysmal month of July, only winning once in five matches and dropping to seventh place in the standings. To make matters worse, the team has been riddled with injuries. Michael Reed (foot), Matt Pickens (back), and Bradley Bourgeois (hamstring) have missed the past handful of games. Reed and Pickens could return, but Bourgeois remains sidelined.

Kickoff is slated for 6:30 p.m. and can be seen locally on MyTV30, streamed on ESPN+, or heard on 94.9.

Team: FC Cincinnati

  • Affiliation: None
  • Stadium: Nippert Stadium (33,800)
    • Nippert is home to the University of Cincinnati football team and is the largest venue in the USL.
    • It is the fifth-oldest stadium in college football.
  • Coach: Alan Koch (2nd season)
    • Koch came to Cincinnati from Vancouver, where he led the Whitecaps’ reserve squad for two seasons.
    • He took over in Cincy for John Harkes, a former U.S. national who abruptly left after one season due to a personality conflict with team management.
    • Koch is from South Africa and speaks English, German and Afrikaans.
  • First Season: 2016
  • 2017 Finish: 12-10-10 (Lost in Conference Quarterfinals to Tampa Bay, 3-0)
  • Best-ever Finish: 2016 (16-8-6, Conference Quarterfinals)
  • Supporters’ Groups: The team has several active supporters groups
  • Three Fun Facts:
    1. FC Cincinnati fans packed Nippert Stadium in 2017, leading the USL in attendance by double the second-place team.
    2. FCC advanced to the semifinals of the 2017 U.S. Open Cup, beating Columbus and Chicago and selling out Nippert Stadium for the semifinal match.
    3. Cincy and Louisville City compete in the Dirty River Derby for the River Cities Cup. Louisville won the 2017 trophy on goal differential after the sides went 1-1-1 in three matches. FCC is 3-2-2 all-time in the series.


Nashville SC coach Gary Smith:

“We’re going to go to an environment that will be electric – 25,000 people, a rivalry that is in its infancy, but already we’ve seen the first of what I hope are many games that I’m involved in against Cincinnati. They’re going to the next level, we’re going to the next level, but until we both get there, the rivalry is here at this level, and they’ve taken a point off of us at home in an extremely exciting and pulsating game. No reason why we can’t go there and do likewise or better.”


Andy Simmons, Golden Goal: 2-1 FC Cincinnati

Wes Boling, Golden Goal: Wes has elected not to make a prediction due to him calling the game on 94.9, but he believes Nashville can get a favorable result if:

-It plays more aggressively than in recent road outings and avoids silly mistakes.

-It pursues a front-footed approach as it did in the first meeting with Cincy.

-It finds some kind of finishing ability, which has been sorely lacking.

Ben Wright, Speedway Soccer: 3-0 FC Cincinnati

John Sloop, Speedway Soccer: 3-1 FC Cincinnati

Nashville SC player ratings vs. Atlanta United 2

The guys at Speedway Soccer pod are back with their player ratings, this time from Nashville SC’s 1-0 victory against Atlanta United 2.


CJ Cochran – 7.0: Pretty quiet night. Only had to make one save. Looked confident and organized the defense well. Distribution was strong.

Kosuke Kimura – 8.0: As always, has a fantastic work rate. Made several crucial blocks, including one from point blank range early in the second half. His service into the box was on point and his passing was consistently positive.

Liam Doyle – 7.5: Shifted over to the right center back slot due to injuries/suspensions. Didn’t use his right foot once, but that’s not a real complaint. Made some crucial interventions, including blocking a Kratz freekick that was surely going into the top corner.

Justin Davis – 6.5: Slid centrally and didn’t look at all comfortable. He made a few good sliding tackles, but his positioning wasn’t great. Doyle and James were able to help him out, and he improved as the game went on.

Ryan James – 7.0: Connected really well with Ish Jome on the left and put in a really dangerous ball that Mensah couldn’t connect with. Pushed up into midfield in second half stoppage time as Nashville shifted to a back five.

Alan Winn – 7.0: Burned Mikey Ambrose multiple times and earned a couple dangerous free kicks. His final ball into the box was disappointing, though, and his set piece delivery was poor. Replaced by Washington after 74 minutes.

Matt LaGrassa – 7.5: Started in place of the injured Michael Reed and looked really good. Created two chances and made some dangerous trailing runs into the box. Gets a slight knock for not taking a single shot, often opting to pass the ball off instead of pulling the trigger.

Bolu Akinyode – 8.0: Dropped right back into the starting lineup and did what you’d expect him to do. Completed 93 percent of his passes and recycled possession well. Would have liked to see him be a bit more inventive with his forward passing, especially in the second half when Nashville needed a goal, and he gave away a few sloppy fouls. Overall another strong showing.

Ish Jome – 8.0: His best performance in a while. Was able to isolate Metcalf and gave him all kinds of trouble with his pace and his aggressiveness in 1v1 situations. Put some dangerous balls into the box, included a fantastic assist for Washington’s winner. Replaced by Jordan Dunstan in the 90th minute.

Lebo Moloto – 7.0: His off the ball movement was brilliant in the first half and he connected really well with Mensah and Winn, but faded in the second half. Had a decent chance to test Hildebrandt on the half volley, but other than that didn’t create many real chances of note, aside from an ambitious volley from distance that he couldn’t quite keep down. A decent outing, but hard to give him too much credit when Nashville only managed eight total shots.

Ropapa Mensah – 7.0: Like Moloto, had great movement. Nashville looked much more fluid and threatening with him on the field than they have in recent weeks. Also like Moloto, hard to credit too much when he didn’t manage a shot. He did create two chances, and hit the post on a strong headed effort, but it was whistled for offside. His pace definitely gives Nashville a different dynamic. Replaced by Brandon Allen after 73 minutes.


Brandon Allen – 6.0: Came on in place of Mensah with 17 minutes to go, and was completely anonymous. Touched the ball four times (no touches in Atlanta’s box), made three passes, and didn’t manage a shot. Gets a half-point bump for a great dummy run to free Washington on the back post for the goal. It was a really intelligent play, but was really his only contribution.

Taylor Washington – 8.5: Replaced Winn after 74 minutes and put in a great shift. Predictably, he brought a lot of energy to the side late in the game, and found himself in acres of space on the left wing. Skied a shot on his weak foot, but redeemed himself two minutes later with a tap in after being found in space by Ish Jome. Picked a great time to score his first ever professional goal.

Jordan Dunstan – N/A: Replaced Jome at the start of second half stoppage time and immediately slid in as a third center back. Didn’t have time to really get involved, but did make a decent headed clearance. Congrats to him on making his professional debut!

Gary Smith – 6.5: He did well to manage the injuries and suspension, and got 3 points against a much stronger Atlanta squad than we expected. He also gave Mensah a chance to start, which was nice to see. Still, the team only managed 8 total shots and lacked ideas in the final third. It’s an issue that is becoming more and more worrying.

Has Nashville SC fixed its problems with Atlanta win?

Nashville SC and Atlanta United 2 had their second act of the USL season at First Tennessee Park Wednesday night. Taylor Washington was in the right place at the right time to score in the 80th minute for the 1-0 win and their first win in July after going 0-2-1 this month. It’s Washington’s first career goal with the club, as well as his first professional career goal.

“It’s a great feeling. As soon as I saw Ish [Jome] get the ball, I know what he does. He takes people one versus one on the end line, and he put in a great ball, and Brandon made a great run and was able to sort of dummy it, and I was in the right place at the right time, thank God. It took me three years, but I’m happy and very pleased. I’m extremely happy we were able to get a win because we needed it,” said Washington.

But did Nashville SC really figure out some of its problems this game, considering this is only their second win in seven games? Somewhat, but there are still some concerns.

The finishing continues to be problem number one.

Nashville indeed passed Atlanta to death in the first half ala Spain against Russia, but that’s been their problem this entire month. They can pass anyone to death, but have no idea how to convert on chances. It has shown over this latest stretch of games they’ve only scored four goals in those seven contests, with all of them coming against Atlanta.

Remember, this is also a Nashville side that was barely averaging less goals per game (1.06) than this Atlanta side (1.11). The Boys in Gold are right at the bottom of conversion rate in the USL.

Now, both wins for Nashville during this recent stretch have come against Atlanta. Considering where Atlanta sits in the table and how Nashville struggled to put anything in the back of the net until late into the contest, it’s not a reassuring sign moving forward.

Against teams under .500, Nashville is 5-1-1. Against equal to or greater than .500,the Boys in Gold are 6-5-5. So yes, a win is nice, but the points need to also be picked up against playoff caliber teams in order to jump up the table when the schedule calls for it.

But to be fair, Atlanta decided to bring a slew of strong players from their MLS side for this outing. The starting eleven had 48 combined appearances in MLS.

Miles Robinson, Mikey Ambrose, Kevin Kratz, and Romario Williams featured in a different Atlanta side from the one in June, a much more competitive one. Their MLS experience showed a bit.

“From the very outset, it was always going to be much, much tougher than the first outing. If you look at the makeup of their team, with guys like Kevin Kratz, Romario Williams, to name a couple of first-team additions,” said Nashville SC coach Gary Smith.

“I think I’m right in saying that it’s probably the strongest group that they’ve put out in USL. I’d like to think that’s a credit to our group and how well we played against them in the last game. In fact, we have a wonderful local competition building here and a bit of a rivalry. It could be completely different reasons, but I’d like to think that. So, the game was always going to be much tougher and it proved that way.”

This is also the first time this season where Nashville has had to deal with the injury bug for multiple players. Bradley Bourgeouis, Michael Reed, and Matt Pickens were all held out of this contest. Pickens and Reed were on the injury report this week as questionable, while Bourgeois was listed as out. His latest social media posts might suggest he could be out for quite some time.

The biggest missing piece was Reed. The midfield just did not look the same without him helping control traffic with Bolu Akinyode and making precision passes to the forwards up top and the wingers running down the sideline.

Ropapa Mensah  did come in for the start, working hard and challenging for aerial balls. The link up play between him, Lebo Moloto, and Alan Winn was something to behold. Hopefully that trio impressed enough with their creativity to give them a chance to play together more moving forward.

But three points is three points, and despite Nashville’s obvious issues in the final third, this side will be happy to take the three as they come.

“In the end, of course, (I’m) absolutely delighted that Taylor can seal the deal. But, I genuinely felt we were the better side. We created the better chances and I’m very, very pleased in the conduct of the group again,” said Smith.

Nashville now jumps to 6th in the Eastern Conference with 30 points, and three of its next five matches are against playoff foes. The Boys in Gold will be back in action Saturday to take on Toronto FC II at 5 p.m. central.

Fearless Forecast: Nashville SC vs. Atlanta United 2

In what has been a dismal July for Nashville SC (0-2-1), the Boys in Gold are looking to pick up their first win of the month against Atlanta United 2 Wednesday night at First Tennessee Park. Nashville SC beat Atlanta United 2 3-0 June 30.

Some background on tonight’s opponent:

Team: Atlanta United 2

  • Affiliation: Atlanta United (reserve side)
  • Stadium: Coolray Field (10,427)
  • Coach: Scott Donnelly (1st year)
    • Donnelly has spent more than 15 years as a coach, most recently as an assistant with the U.S. U-18 National Team.
    • He helped develop 15 professional players during his time as a college coach, five of whom were MLS SuperDraft picks
    • Donnelly served as an assistant for the U.S. U-17 World Cup team that reached the quarterfinals, thanks in part to three Atlanta United prospects
  • First Season: 2018
  • 2017 Finish: N/A
  • Best-ever Finish: N/A
  • Three Fun Facts:
    1. The team plays at the same stadium as the Atlanta Braves’ AAA baseball affiliate.
    2. Three members of the Atlanta United academy played in the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
    3. Atlanta United previously had a close relationship with the Charleston Battery, to whom they have loaned multiple players.


Here’s how we think the match will pan out.

Andy Simmons, Golden Goal

2-0 Nashville SC

Goals: Brandon Allen, Bolu Akiyode

MOTM: Liam Doyle

Prediction: Nashville wins in every statistical category.


Wes Boling, Golden Goal

1-0 Nashville SC

Goal: Brandon Allen

MOTM: Alan Winn

Forecast: Atlanta manages at least 10 shots against Nashville’s depleted defense.


Glenn Judah, Golden Goal

1-1 draw

Goal: Liam Doyle

MOTM: Liam Doyle

Prediction: Nashville scores on a set piece.


Ben Wright, Speedway Soccer

2-0 Nashville SC

Goals: Brandon Allen, Ropapa Mensah,

MOTM: Ropapa Mensah

Prediction: CJ Cochran gets the start in goal for Nashville.


Davey Shepard, Speedway Soccer

1-0 Nashville SC

Goal: Ropapa Mensah

MOTM: Ropapa Mensah

Prediction: Same old song and dance. Nashville struggles to create chances in volume and are bailed out by Mensah again.


John Sloop, Speedway Soccer

3-1 Nashville SC

Goals: Brandon Allen x2, Ropapa Mensah

MOTM: Brandon Allen

Prediction: After a long and hard internal debate, Sloop decides to go with YouTube TV as his content provider.