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.

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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.

SUBS:

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!

Manager
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.

Nashville SC Player Ratings vs. Ottawa Fury F.C.

Nashville SC dropped points on the road in its first international trip of the season, losing 2-0 to Ottawa Fury. Here are the Nashville SC player ratings from that match, courtesy of Speedway Soccer Pod. You can check out their latest episode recapping this match here.

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Matt Pickens – 6.5: Made a couple of saves and wasn’t at fault for either goal. Took a knock in stoppage time. Keep your eye on the injury report to see if he is listed.

London Woodberry – 5.0: His only offensive contribution was a blocked shot. Was mostly solid defensively, but picked up a really needless second yellow in the 94th minute. Was lucky not to be shown a straight red for putting his studs into Tony Taylor’s chest. He’ll be suspended for the midweek game against Atlanta.
Bradley Bourgeois – 7.0: Worked hard all night and was solid defensively, despite never looking 100 passes fit. Started grabbing his hamstring early in the first half and was forced off in the 83rd minute, forcing Nashville to play a man down. Would be shocked to see him in the squad against Atlanta.
Liam Doyle – 7.0: Had a pretty decent night. Did really well on Ottawa’s first goal to cut down Sanon’s angle and deny him the shot. Distribution was solid as always, and despite the scoreline had a good performance. With the injuries and suspension, he seems like a lock to continue starting the next few games.
Justin Davis – 6.0: Was an attacking threat down the left all night, putting in some good crosses and completing 84 percent of his passes. However, he gave the ball away really sloppily just outside his own box, directly leading to Ottawa’s second goal.
Taylor Washington – 5.5: Started on the right wing, and played as a number 10 to start the second half. Replaced by Tucker Hume after 60 minutes. Largely ineffective going forward, but then again so was the entire attack.
Matt LaGrassa – 7.0: Unfortunate to have one of his best performances in what may have been the worst result of the season. Was obviously more comfortable in a central role, saying “I am able to be more influential there.” Completed 83 percent of his passes and had a team-leading four shots. He sees space really well.
Michael Reed – 6.5: Looked less comfortable without Akinyode partnering him, but still created a team-high two chances. However, he often found himself occupying the same spaces as LaGrassa. Picked up a knock to his ankle and was replaced by Ryan James after 70 minutes.
Ish Jome – 5.5: Worked hard and got into some good spots. Beat his man on the dribble a few times, and had a shout for a penalty turned down in the first half. His end product in the final third still tends to disappoint. Like the rest of the attackers, mostly ineffective.
Brandon Allen – 5.0: Had one touch in the box all night. Managed a decent shot from it, but still… not good enough. Probably should’ve taken the penalty kick instead of Winn, though. Decided to stop marking Manella for Ottawa’s opening goal and left Davis isolated with two attackers. Frustrating.
Alan Winn – 5.0: Had three shots and created two chances, but looked really uncomfortable in a central role and eventually moved over to the right wing. Ended up taking the penalty kick in the 82nd minute, and hit the bar. Blew an opportunity to get three points on the road.
SUBS
Tucker Hume – 5.0: Replaced Washington in the 60th minute. Didn’t manage a shot. A very anonymous performance.
Ryan James – 6.0: Replaced the injured captain after 70 minutes. Pretty solid in possession. Not flashy, but not bad.
Kosuke Kimura – 5.0: Replaced Jome in the 79th minute, in what seemed to be a clear indication that Smith was settling for a draw. Played right midfield until Bourgeois went off injured, when he moved back to right back.
Manager
Gary Smith – 5.0: Was hurt by the lack of Mensah and Akinyode, but his team was not set up to create chances. His substitutions were conservative as well, leaving Moloto on the bench when the game sorely needed some creativity. Has to figure out a way to create more chances and get better results if Nashville wants to make the playoffs.

Nashville SC ventures north in search of points

We’re past the halfway point of Nashville SC inaugural season, and so far it can best be summed up in two Ron Swanson GIFs.

During the 11-game winning streak:

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And now in their current form, where they’ve dropped points in three of their last four matches:

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But despite the recent form, there’s little reason for panic. The Boys in Gold now go on a stretch where four of their next five opponents are currently outside the playoff bubble in the USL Eastern Conference, which starts Saturday with a trip to Ottawa Fury FC.

Team: Ottawa Fury FC

  • Affiliation: Montreal Impact
  • Stadium: TD Place Stadium (24,000)
    • TD Place Stadium is also home to the Ottawa Redblacks Canadian Football League team and hosted the 2017 Grey Cup
    • The stadium site has hosted sporting events since 1908 as Landsdowne Park but never played home to a soccer team until the Fury were formed in 2014
  • Coach: Nikola Popovic (1st season)
    • Popovic led the 2017 Swope Park Rangers to a 17-8-7 record and a Western Conference championship in his only year as coach, then the parties mutually agreed to part ways
    • Popovic has coached teams in four continents — Europe, Asia, Africa and North America
    • His first coaching job came in 2012, when he managed Portuguese second-division side Sertanense FC
  • First Season: 2014 (joined USL in 2017)
  • 2017 Finish: 8-10-14 (10th Eastern Conference, missed playoffs)
  • Best-ever Finish: 2017
  • Supporters Group: Bytown Boys, Stony Monday Riot
  • Three Fun Facts: Ottawa Fury FC moved from the NASL to the USL after the 2016 season, citing cost savings (of around $200,000) and attendance growth as reasons for the switch
    1. Ottawa ranked near the bottom of the league in passing last year and ended the campaign with eight draws in its final 11 matches — and a league-leading 14 draws all season
    1. Fury FC played Scottish stalwart Rangers in a 2014 friendly, losing 1-0 in a match at the newly opened TD Place.

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

Why it matters for Nashville: This side will obviously want to get back into the form it was in during the unbeaten stretch a couple of months ago. Since the U.S. Open Cup loss against Louisville, the Boys in Gold have fallen from as high as third place, to now sitting in seventh place tied with Charlotte Independence on points with 27.

And, as mentioned above, this next stretch of games is an opportune time to pick up points and get back into the hunt to host a home playoff game.

Why it matters for Ottawa: The Fury have won three of their last five USL matches to catapult them to within distance of competing for a playoff spot. Plus, they’ve proven to be a menacing host with a 4-3-2 record, so they’ll hope to expand on that record with a slick playing surface.

Projected Nashville SC starting 11

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Goalkeeper: Lather. Rinse. Repeat. (Side note: We are excited to see CJ Cochran back in the side after his brief loan in Fresno.)

Defense: Smith confirmed with the media that Bradley Bourgeois is ok after coming off against FC Cincinnati and not making the trip up to Charlotte, so we expect to see him make a return back to the side. Everything else is self explanatory.

Midfield: Lather. Rinse. Repeat for the middle of the park. As long as the Reed/Akinyode connection is clicking and controlling the midfield, there’s no reason to break up that tandem. Alan Winn is playing some of his best football at the moment and is a constant threat coming down either flank, so we expect him to continue his impressive run of form. Some may have disagreements with Matt LaGrassa on the wing, but his productivity out there (22 key passes on the year) and ability to swap positions with Lebo Moloto during the match is great for keeping the defenders off balance.

Forward: This one could cause some question marks, as Brandon Allen has only scored once in eight games and fans might be asking for Ropapa Mensah. However, he continues to be an asset in the linkup play, which Smith has expressed as one of Allen’s strongest qualities besides being in prominent goal-scoring spots. He could easily start this game, but we can also see Mensah getting a shot up top with Moloto, who isn’t getting removed any time soon.

Prediction: Although this is a tricky fixture, Nashville will be fresh on 10 days of rest. Ottawa is coming off a tough 1-0 loss to Toronto FC Wednesday in the first leg of the Canadian Cup, so there will be some tired legs on that side of the pitch. Nashville should take advantage of the break and pull off a hard-fought victory. 2-1 Nashville SC win.