Nashville SC Player Ratings vs. FC Cincinnati

The guys at Speedway Soccer Pod are back with their latest player ratings, this time breaking down the exciting regular season 3-3 finale against F.C. Cincinnati.

Screenshot_2018-10-15 Lineup Builder

Matt Pickens – 6.0: An up-and-down night. Let Bone’s opener slip in under him a little too easily, and flapped at an attempted olympico corner, giving up a horrible rebound and letting Albadawi head the ball into an empty net. Couldn’t do anything to stop Cincinnati’s third and made a couple key saves, including a world-class save in the first half to deny Ledesma from range.

Ryan James – 6.5: Looked a bit timid and for the first time all season, seemed hesitant to use his right foot (he’s typically the most two-footed player on the pitch). Completely lost track of Bone on their opener and didn’t contribute a ton going forward.

Bradley Bourgeois – 7.0: Stepped high to mark Ledesma on Cincy’s opener, but didn’t close him down quickly enough and left a huge gap behind for Bone to exploit. Other than that didn’t have a poor night, but it was a pretty average showing in his first game back in almost a month.

Liam Doyle – 7.5: Wasn’t really involved in any of Cincinnati’s goals and came up with several important interventions.

Taylor Washington – 8.5: Supported Winn really well on the left and typically bombed forward in search of an equalizer. His overlapping runs and driven balls into the box have been key to Nashville’s improved attack.

Ropapa Mensah – 8.5: Drove the ball at Blake Smith all night and came close to goal in the first half. Put in some good service in the second, including a beautiful assist to Brandon Allen. In great form heading into the playoffs.

Michael Reed – 7.5: Looked lively before coming off with an injury to his left hamstring in the 21st minute. Was walking around with no visible limp after halftime, so hopefully it was a precaution to keep him healthy for the playoffs.

Bolu Akinyode – 9.0: A really strong showing from Speedway Soccer’s highest rated player of the regular season. Battled in midfield all night, winning back possession and completing 97% of his passes (and only 26% were passed backwards). He was poorly positioned on Bone’s opener – he looked unsure who to mark and let Bone slip behind him into a huge pocket of space. But he redeemed himself with his first (and one of Nashville’s best) goal of the season.

Alan Winn – 9.0: A danger all night, equally capable of taking the ball to the endline or cutting inside onto his stronger right foot. Set up Hume with a perfectly weighted cross, and continued to cause problems for Cincinnati until he came off in the 73rd minute.

Matt LaGrassa – 8.5: Started as a second striker and dropped back to play as a no. 8 after Reed went off. Covered every inch of the field and popped up with a team high seven tackles. He’s in really good form heading into the playoffs.

Tucker Hume – 8.0: Got his seventh goal of the season with a good header back across the goal. Faded a bit as the game went on, but occupied the center backs and made space for LaGrassa and Tyrpak underneath. Came off for Allen after 64 minutes.

SUBS

Kris Tyrpak – 7.0: Replaced Reed early in the first half. Worked hard as a second forward, but never really came up with any end product. His most significant contribution was a shot he put straight at the ‘keeper that probably should have been a goal.

Brandon Allen – 8.0: Came on for Hume with around 30 minutes to play and produced a beautiful volleyed goal for Nashville’s second of the night. It seems he’s found a great role as an impact sub and has played with more energy than we’ve seen so far. He’ll be a key part of Nashville’s playoff performance.

Ramone Howell – 7.5: Replaced Alan Winn with 17 minutes to play and looked good, although somewhat unsure positionally. Operated underneath Allen but drifted to the right frequently. His biggest contribution was a blocked shot that led to Akinyode’s last gasp equalizer.

MANAGER

Gary Smith – 7.5: Can’t fault him too much for allowing three goals to the best attack in the country. His first two substitutions were strong, but it didn’t appear as if Howell had clear instructions on his role in the last 15 minutes. Smith’s teams have played Cincinnati really well all year, and it will be fascinating to see how he approaches the game this coming weekend.

Nashville SC Player Ratings vs. Toronto FC II

The guys at Speedway Soccer Pod are back with their latest player ratings, this time breaking down the 2-2 draw against Toronto FC II.

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Matt Pickens – 5.5: Gave up a bad rebound leading to Toronto’s opener, and should have saved their equalizer. Not a great night.
Kosuke Kimura – 8.5: Not at fault for Nashville’s defensive issues and really strong going forward.
Justin Davis – 6.0: Slow to react on Toronto’s first goal, and beaten in the air far too easily on their second. A really poor showing on the defensive side, although he was decent going forward.
Liam Doyle – 7.0: Not a particularly notable showing, but didn’t do a whole lot wrong.
Taylor Washington – 8.5: Really strong going forward, completing 94% of his passes and putting in some really good service. Should’ve been rewarded with better finishing from his strikers.
Bolu Akinyode – 8.0: Completed a high percentage of his passes, cleaned up messes in midfield, and let his teammates push forward. A pretty typical performance.
Michael Reed – 8.5: Moved the ball really well and put in some great service into the box. In a really good run of form.
Matt LaGrassa – 8.0: A bit of a mixed bag. Saw a penalty kick saved in the first half, but scored in the second on a half volley that was more difficult than it looked. Overall a positive performance.
Ropapa Mensah – 8.0: Took on defenders with pace all night and delivered some really good crosses into the box. Taken off for Woodberry in the 80th minute.
Tucker Hume – 6.5: Did really poorly with the service he got and didn’t make an impact. Replaced by Brandon Allen in the 62nd minute.
Alan Winn – 9.0: Dangerous all night. Earned the penalty in the first half and set up Allen with a beautiful layoff. Created five chances on the night. Really good performance.
SUBS
Brandon Allen – 9.5: His best performance of the season. Came on with 30 minutes to play and ran harder than he ever has in a Nashville shirt. Assisted LaGrassa after a brilliant run and scored what should have been the winner for Nashville. A different kind of performance than we’re used to seeing from him – hopefully it carries over into the playoffs.
London Woodberry – N/R: Replaced Mensah with 10 minutes to go and saw Nashville switch to a back five. Didn’t have any impact.
MANAGER
Gary Smith – 4.0: Let his team attack in the first 75 minutes and subbed in Brandon Allen, who changed the game. Tried to bunker in and squeeze out a 2-1 win and it absolutely backfired. Bringing on Woodberry saw momentum shift even more to Toronto and he again shows that won’t be aggressive and kill off a game when he needs to. Nashville blew a chance to secure a playoff berth at home against the worst team in the east, and it’s largely his fault.

 

Fearless Forecast: Hanging on the edge edition

The other day, we put out a poll trying to answer a simple question.

The poll was this.

An overwhelming amount of you said you are indeed concerned for Nashville SC’s hopes of making the playoffs, and there’s plenty of evidence to support your worrisome manner.

We also asked you to explain your reasoning why you felt the way you did. Here’s what some of you had to say.

Anyone else notice a common theme behind these answers?

Yep, it’s the lethargic offense and inability to finish in front of goal, a problem that seems to be brought up again and again at an alarming rate. It’s something fans thought Nashville SC had left behind in the middle of the season. But alas, the results don’t lie.

Nashville is winless in the month of September, and have only collected 10 points in its last 10 games. And now with arguably their most creative player on offense in Lebo Moloto out due to an undisclosed knee injury for the forseeable future, the Boys in Gold will somehow have to find the magic touch in front of goal in this important road contest against Atlanta United 2.

Currently in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, Nashville can vault itself back into the playoff picture with three points Wednesday if they take advantage of the game in hand.

Fail, and the concerns of not making the postseason will certainly magnify.

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 will play 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 what Nashville SC Gary Smith had to say about the match. in which we could see a strong Atlanta United 2 side filled with talent from their MLS counterparts.

“We hold the key to the post season at this point. Wednesday night will be an instrumental evening. I would fully expect, and I know that their group can be interchangeable at any point, but we will go there expecting their strongest team will be out [on the field]. They did it here, so why would they not do it there. I will prepare for that. They have some extremely talented individual players and some very good team players that may well be in their side. It won’t be easy, but we have not seen one yet that was. It has been a tough season.”

You can stream the match on ESPN+, but it will not be available to watch locally. You can also listen to the game on ESPN 94.9 Game 2.

Fearless Forecasts

Andy Simmons, Golden Goal

1-1

Goal: Tucker Hume

MOTM: Michael Reed

Fearless Forecast: Nashville SC picks up a red.

 

Ben Wright, Speedway Soccer

2-1 Nashville

Goals: Ropapa Mensah, Matt LaGrassa

MOTM: Matt LaGrassa

Fearless Forecast: Nashville attempts 20+ crosses

 

Johnathan Slape, Speedway Soccer

1-1

Goal: Ropapa Mensah

MOTM: Bolu Akinyode

Fearless Forecast: Nashville actually picks up a point after giving up the first goal

Fearless Forecast: Nashville SC vs. Charleston Battery

With only a couple of weeks left in the USL regular season, the pressure for Nashville SC’s push for the playoffs is certainly on.

Their 11-game unbeaten streak earlier this season now seems like a distant memory and has been replaced with their recent run of form, with the Boys in Gold having only picked up two wins in their last eight matches. Now, they welcome a Charleston Battery team searching for the opportunity to host a playoff match in the first round.

The Battery are currently fourth in the Eastern Conference with 49 points, but can jump as high as second with a win Saturday against Nashville, and either draws or losses from Louisville City and Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

Nashville SC knows it must be better on converting its chances, an area it has struggled with all season and seems to not be improving on despite some glimmer of hope earlier in the year in that department.

“There are too many moments that are squandered, and it’s really been a feature of our group all year,” said Nashville SC coach Gary Smith after the match Tuesday.

“We’ve made enough moments throughout games. We’ve limited teams to enough moments at the other end. But, the big difference tonight was that they were clinical when it mattered, or we made a mistake, and they didn’t.”

For those who need a refresher, here’s how the encounter between those clubs occurred earlier this year.

Team: Charleston Battery

  • Affiliation: None
  • Stadium: MUSC Health Stadium (5,100)
    • MUSC Health Stadium is a soccer-specific facility 18 miles from downtown Charleston
    • The stadium is modeled after lower-division English soccer stadiums and features an on-site pub, called “The Three Lions”
  • Coach: Mike Anhaeuser (14th season)
    • Anhaeuser is a member of the USL Hall of Fame and has guided Charleston to two league titles (2010 and 2012)
    • Anhaeuser played five seasons for Charleston (1994-98), appearing in 115 matches and scoring two goals
  • First Season: 1993 (USISL)
  • 2017 Finish: 13-9-8 (lost in Conference Semis to Louisville, 1-0)
  • Best-ever Finish: 2012 (USL Champions)
  • Supporters’ Group: The Regiment
  • Three Fun Facts:
    1. Charleston was the last second-division side to make the finals of the U.S. Open Cup, losing to D.C. United, 2-1
    2. In addition to its USL title in 2012, Charleston won the USL A-League in 1996 and 2003
    3. Despite ranking in the bottom half of the league in passing accuracy, Charleston had the third-most efficient attack in 2017

Keep in mind, Charleston leading goalscorer Atualla Guerra is out for Saturday’s contest, as he’s serving the final game of a three-game suspension. Joe Kusminsky will be a rigorous test for a Nashville offense that has struggled to convert its chances, as Kusminsky has 11 clean sheets, which is tied for third best in the league with Pittsburgh’s Daniel Lynd.

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

“I think first of all, it is probably the most important game of the season, just purely in the fact that the games are getting scratched off. We still got four games of the final six at home, but we have to start taking advantage of it. I think the game will be conducted in a very similar fashion as the Tampa Bay game. They play with a back three, slightly different 4-3 in front of them, but I think a lot of their game is very similar to Tampa, they will be tough to break down. They’ll be competitive, and they have individuals on the counter attack who are very bright, and I’m sure they will be difficult to cope with on certain instances. I would say from Tuesday night’s game, though the result did not go our way, we’re still seeing some encouraging things, some terrific chances that we should really do better on. Without sounding like a broken record, it really is the patience at this point and taking advantage of those things at the moment. The guys appreciate the magnitude of those situations and what they are getting into on this final stretch. We will certainly see a group, as always, goes out there and gives it everything they’ve got. I think this Charleston, thing, while tough to play against, is certainly beatable for us.”

Saturday’s match can be watched locally on MyTV30 or streamed on ESPN+, with kickoff slated for 7:30 p.m. You can also listen to the match on ESPN 94.9 Game 2 and in Spanish on El Jefe 96.7 FM.

Fearless Forecasts

Andy Simmons, Golden Goal

1-0 Charleston

MOTM: Justin Davis

Fearless Forecast: Nashville SC outshoots Charleston, but has less shots on target.

 

Jonathan Slape, Speedway Soccer

1-1 Draw

Goalscorer: Ropapa Mensah

MOTM: Michael Reed

Fearless Forecast: after a scoreless first half, Nashville scorers early in the second but gives up a goal for the draw. Nashville again fails to convert several big chances.

 

Ben Wright, Speedway Soccer

1-0 Charleston

MOTM:Kosuke Kimura

Fearless Forecast: Nashville has the majority of clear cut chances but can’t finish.

 

John Sloop, Speedway Soccer

2-1 Nashville SC

Goalscorers: Ropapa Mensah, Matt LaGrassa

MOTM: Ropapa Mensah

Fearless Forecast: The Roadies feel a new level of pride in the community they’ve built with the successful singing of their new song

 

 

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.