Nashville SC Player Ratings: vs. NCFC

The guys at Speedway Soccer Pod are back with their player ratings, this time they recap the exciting come-from-behind 3-3 draw against North Carolina FC.




Matt Pickens – 4.5: Despite a deflection on the first goal, he could have done better. Slow to react on the free kick goal, even though the wall was set up to force Rios to shoot towards the far post. Should’ve done better. Wasn’t helped by poor defending on the third goal, but again was slow to react. On top of this he didn’t make a save all night. An uncharacteristically poor showing.

Kosuke Kimura – 8.0: The best of Nashville’s defense. Safe with the ball and got involved in the attack well.
Bradley Bourgeois – 6.5: Not directly at fault for any of North Carolina’s goals, but a poor attempted clearance put Doyle under a lot of pressure on the third. Not a bad performance, but not up to his usual standards. On a positive note, his effectiveness passing the ball has increased all season and he’s contributing a lot to the attack with solid distribution.
Liam Doyle – 5.0: Slow to close down Shipalane for the opener and got a touch that deflected it past Pickens. A really bad attempted clearance perfectly set up Steinberger to volley home North Carolina’s third. Earned a penalty kick after his free kick hit a defender in the hand, but that was about his only positive contribution.
Matt LaGrassa – 6.5: Started out with on the right but moved centrally after the break. Worked hard but had limited impact.
Michael Reed – 6.0: Completed nearly 97 percent of his passes, but failed to keep his shots on target. He was the closest Shipalane after the ball was turned over and tracked back, but never got into position to make a tackle and let him get the shot off. Hesitant to close down Steinberger for North Carolina’s third and again allowed him to get the shot off. Very industrious, but not much end product.
Bolu Akinyode – 6.5: His job in this team is to clean up messes, keep the ball moving, and give others the freedom to get forward. Did that well for the most part, but with his team in a two-goal deficit at the break, was withdrawn for more attacking fire power.
Taylor Washington – 8.0: As always, a high energy performance. Put in some dangerous crosses and took advantage of the space afforded to him. Moved to left back after Davis was withdrawn, and continued to bomb forward. He’s in a great run of form.
Lebo Moloto – 7.0: Gets credit for the equalizing goal, albeit a goal that needed a massive deflection to go in. Only managed a single shot and wasn’t able to create any meaningful chances. Was responsible for an amazingly sloppy giveaway to set up North Carolina’s opening goal.
Ropapa Mensah – 6.5: Ran hard but never really got involved. Came off at halftime for Brandon Allen.
Alan Winn – 6.5: Replaced Bolu Akinyode at halftime in a very attack minded substitution, but didn’t really pay off. His crossing was poor, he couldn’t manage a shot, and never really clicked with his teammates.
Brandon Allen – 9.0: Didn’t get much service, but cooly dispatched two penalties. In a game like this one, you can only take the chances you get and he did that well.
Tucker Hume – 7.5: Replaced Justin Davis in the 68th minute and did really well to earn a penalty kick 11 minutes later. Brought down the ball really well before being dragged back. Given the form he’s in, one might wonder why he didn’t start.
Gary Smith – 6.0: Credit to him for making aggressive substitutions and fighting back to earn a point, but the team started sluggishly and continues to drop points they really need. Sure, his team scored three, but two were penalties and one took an incredibly fortuitous deflection, and they gave up three of the sloppiest goals of the season. The offense had no real ideas, and created no real chances (0.397 xG). Nashville will probably squeeze into the playoffs, but questions should be asked if these performances are good enough, and that starts with the manager

Fearless Forecast: Nashville SC vs. NCFC


Yes, Jim Mora, despite Nashville SC’s recent 1-0 loss to Charlotte Independence, the Boys in Gold are still in the hunt for a playoff spot in the USL Eastern Conference. With eight games to go in the regular season, however, Nashville has little to no room to make any mistakes and cannot afford to drop points.

Nashville will once again head to the Tar Heel state to take North Carolina FC Saturday.  If you’ll recall, this occurred the last time these two sides clash.

Ropapa Mensah’s late winner is arguably one of the top moments this season. However, the stoppage-time goal seems very distant. After that match, Nashville has gone 4-3-6 and have slid down to ninth place in the Eastern Conference. Currently sitting outside the playoff bubble with 38 points and tied with Ottawa Fury for that last spot, a win would go a long way in helping Nashville reach its playoff potential.

North Carolina FC is 4-1-3 in its last eight contests, including a victory against top-4 side Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

Here’s what Nashville SC coach Gary Smith had to say about the upcoming match, and what his side needs to do to convert on chances:

“I think if we can get ourselves out in front and convert those moments, I think the full focus and mindset of the weekend will be without a shadow of a doubt to try and get ourselves on the front foot and to get ourselves in a positive position. We proved that in Charlotte, we took the game to them, and we will continue to do that this weekend. We will be bright and positive and a team out there that can win the game, but what we also know is that they are a side fighting for a playoff berth exactly the same as us, and we have to make sure that we play with a level of professionalism that I think deserted us one or two times on the weekend. What I mean is the corner that was scored against us was a poor decision from one of the lads who missed his mark and someone end up free and they score. Even little things on the other end where we do have ideas on what we want to achieve, and we squandered a big opportunity which really should have been a penalty, but those professional moments can make a big difference. We certainly have to be mindful of a good home side who I don’t think are much different from other teams in this league, ourselves included. At home they are a very different prospect than playing away.”

Kickoff is slated for 4 p.m., and the game can be watched locally on MyTV30 and streamed on ESPN+.

Fearless Forecast

Andy Simmons, Golden Goal

0-0 draw

MOTM: Liam Doyle

Fearless Forecast: Nashville outshoots NCFC and out possesses them


Wes Boling, Golden Goal

2-0 NCFC

MOTM: Bolu Akinyode

Fearless Forecast: Nashville will have 60% possession, but will attempt fewer shots on target than NCFC


Ben Wright, Speedway Soccer Pod

2-1 NCFC

Goal: Tucker Hume

MOTM: Michael Reed

Fearless Forecast: Nashville gives up an early goal and take a lot of shots, but doesn’t create and clear chances.



Jonathan Slape, Speedway Soccer Pod

1-0 NCFC

MOTM: Michael Reed

Fearless Forecast: NSC takes 70% of shots outside the box


Fearless Forecast: Nashville SC vs. Charlotte Independence

Two teams from Tennessee will be vying for victories this weekend in Charlotte.

Now, no one is sure how the Tennessee Vols will look under new head coach Jeremy Pruitt just yet, but those in the Volunteer State already have a good idea of what Nashville SC is as a team and is capable of after almost an entire season under their belt.

The Boys in Gold are still looking to make a strong push for the playoffs, and will now look to pick up more points at Charlotte Independence Saturday.

It’s been a rough go for the Jacks lately, who haven’t won a game since their 1-0 victory against Nashville mere months ago. Injuries have plagued the side, and now they sit way out of the playoff picture in 12th place, and will look to play spoiler to those still in the mix for the postseason.

Nashville, meanwhile, is coming off its best offensive performance of the season with a 4-0 shellacking of Richmond Tuesday. The Boys in Gold currently sit in seventh place in the USL Eastern Conference with nine games to go.

Team: Charlotte Independence

  • Affiliation: Colorado Rapids
  • Stadium: Sportsplex at Matthews (2,300)
    • Charlotte’s stadium is the anchor of a 12-field soccer complex southeast of downtown
    • The team made its debut there in 2017
  • Coach: Mike Jeffries (5th season)
    • Jeffries coached the MLS’s Dallas Burn (now FC Dallas) from 2001 to 2003
    • He won the Hermann trophy in 1983, which is given to the nation’s top male college soccer player
    • Jeffries made three appearances for the U.S. national team in the mid-1980s
  • First Season: 2014
  • 2017 Finish: 13-10-9 (Lost in Conference Quarterfinals to Rochester, 2-1)
  • Best-ever Finish: 2016 (14-8-8, Conference Quarterfinals)
  • Supporters’ Groups: Jack’s Militia, QC Royals, Slogic Army
  • Three Fun Facts:
    1. The team is named after the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, a document that some claim was the first such declaration in the American colonies (although some historians dispute this)
    2. Charlotte was one of the best teams in possession in 2017, ranking third in passes and passing accuracy
    3. The Independence had six players sent off in 2017 — second-most in the league

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


Fearless Forecasts

Andy Simmons, Golden Goal

1-0 Nashville

Goal: Tucker Hume

MOTM: Matt Pickens

Forecast: Matt Pickens has a USL Save of the Week candidate.


Wes Boling, Golden Goal


Goal: Lebo Moloto

MOTM: Moloto

Forecast: Charlotte will score in the first half, and Nashville will equalize late.


John Sloop, Speedway Soccer Pod


Goals: Tucker Hume, Alan Winn

MOTM: Hume

Forecast: One of Nashville’s goals is a penalty.



Jonathan Slape, Speedway Soccer Pod


Goal: Lebo Moloto

MOTM: Bolu Akinyode

Fearless Forecast: Kris Tyrpak gets the assist.


Ben Wright, Speedway Soccer Pod

2-1 Nashville

Goals: Tucker Hume, Matt LaGrassa

MOTM: Matt LaGrassa

Forecast: Charlotte outshoots Nashville, but settles for shots outside the box.

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