For weeks, Nashville SC was riding a wave of confidence during its 11-game unbeaten streak.
That wave seems to have come crashing down to shore, as the Boys in Gold fell to Indy Eleven 2-0 Tuesday night at First Tennessee Park. The loss snaps their unbeaten record at home, as well as an eight-game unbeaten streak in the USL. It’s also the second consecutive loss Nashville has suffered in all competitions.
“Well, of course, (I’m) very disappointed,” said Nashville SC coach Gary Smith.
“I was hoping that there wasn’t going to be that moment at home where our form had been very, very good. But, now I have to contemplate that. I’m trying to sift through the wreckage of a defeat and of course pretty emotional in the changing room as well. I think it was easy to see that we pretty much dominated the ball. Sadly for us, well in general goals change games. And the goal from the dead ball was quite a bitter pill to swallow given that we conceded two in Louisville as well. So that was a tad of a concern, and I think it gave them a little bit of a lift, understandably so.”
The biggest surprise of the night came before the match, where it was announced that Indy Eleven forward and leading goal-scorer and assist mane Sonny Saad was left off the entire team sheet for this contest.
Nashville elected to go with its standard formation of a 4-4-2, which lined up like this.
Nashville conceded only its second goal at First Tennessee Park and faced its first deficit at home in the 16th minute. After a brilliant diving save from Matt Pickens, Karl Ouimette headed in the ensuing corner as he was left alone in the box, freely powering it home for the 1-0 lead.
Justin Braun doubled the Indy delight in the 35th minute. After Lebo Moloto’s shot went straight Owain Fon Williams, the break was on for Indy. Braun found himself with the ball on the left side of the box. His shot went towards Pickens, who looked unprepared to handle the attempt.
Nashville elected to make a change at the break, bringing on Alan Winn for Ish Jome in an attempt to help bring some life into the lackluster performance from the first half.
Winn almost brought Nashville back within one in the 66th minute. A corner found his head, which he was able to redirect towards the back post. The shot beat the keeper, but Ayoze Garcia Perez was there to clear the ball off the goal line with a header of his own.
Nashville continued to try and press throughout, but just could not get anything going to pose a real threat to Indy’s lead, despite outshooting Indy Eleven 19-5 and dominating possession 63-37.
“I think it’s a tough one because you feel in control when you have the ball and you have possession. Mental discipline is that much more key when you don’t have everything going in your favor,” said midfielder and captain Michael Reed.
“We don’t want to just be a defensive type of team or a counter type of team. We show capabilities of keeping the ball higher up in the field and we just need to take advantage of our chances. Them scoring the first goal, we talked about as a team, it was really their first chance. They took advantage of it, so we had to come back and put forth the extra effort. I think it was still early in the game and we still had a lot going in our favor. After the second goal, you have to change your approach. But I think if you look at the second half, and I’m sure the stats will show, was very positive. We just have to be more critical in the box and take advantage of the many opportunities we have and that’s really our problem right now.”
Indy Eleven now moves ahead of Nashville SC in the USL Eastern Conference with 24 points, while Nashville drops to fifth place.
Nashville continues its stretch of home games Saturday when the Boys in Gold welcome Atlanta United 2 Saturday at First Tennessee Park. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.