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


Player Ratings: Nashville SC vs. Charlotte Independence

The guys at Speedway Soccer Pod are back with their player ratings, this time they look back at the 1-0 road defeat against Charlotte Independence.


CJ Cochran – 6.0: Didn’t see Watson’s shot until late, but still could have done better. Other than that didn’t have much to do.

Kosuke Kimura – 6.5: Pretty solid defensively, but wasn’t very effective in the attack.
Bradley Bourgeois – 7.0: Really good defensively, and continued to build on his recent showings in the passing game, completing 88 percent. Missed a header from close range in the 90th minute.
London Woodberry – 7.0: Like Bourgeois, strong defensively, limiting Charlotte to no real chances and only one shot in the second half. Completed 91 percent of his passes and composed throughout.
Ryan James – 6.5: Like Kimura, he wasn’t super involved going forward, although he did link well with Washington a couple of times.
Alan Winn – 6.5: Worked really hard all night and had some dangerous moments, although he wasn’t as clinical as he should have been and held onto the ball too long a couple of times. Put a beautiful cross right on Hume’s head but he couldn’t convert.
Matt LaGrassa – 6.5: Energetic and hard working. Linked well with Akinyode and Moloto, and looked really dangerous to start the second half, but picked up a knock a few minutes after the break and came off in the 53rd minute.
Bolu Akinyode – 7.0: Typically strong defensively and moved the ball well, completing 95 percent of his passes. Hard to fault him for missing chances when that’s clearly not his role in this team, but he should’ve done better with two headers from close range.
Taylor Washington – 7.0: High energy and strong delivery from wide positions, as usual. Moved back to left back after James went off and overlapped well. A strong showing, although he’ll be frustrated with some poor finishing from his forwards.
Lebo Moloto – 6.0: Started out brightly but faded as the game went on. Had a great chance from 10 yards out that was tipped onto the post.
Tucker Hume – 6.0: Got into good positions and occupied the center backs well. Had a fantastic chance after Winn crossed a beautiful ball that found him unmarked in the 6-yard-box. Put his header over when he absolutely should be expected to score there. Saw a strong shot saved late in the game. Played well, but as a forward it’s his job to score from those positions, and if Nashville had taken a 1-0 lead, things may have turned out very differently.
Michael Reed – 8.0: Replaced the injured LaGrassa after 53 minutes and picked right back up where he left off against Richmond. Completed every pass he attempted and had some fantastic delivery from set pieces. Like others, he’ll be frustrated with the poor finishing from Nashville’s forwards.
Kris Tyrpak – 5.5: Replaced James after 60 minutes and went off injured 20 minutes later. Never really got involved.
Brandon Allen – N/R: Replaced the injured Tyrpak in the 80th minute and didn’t make an impact.
Gary Smith – 5.0: It feels a little harsh to give such a low rating, but it’s the cumulative result of consistently poor results on the road. His team defended well and should’ve scored a couple, despite not creating a high number of chances. His substitutions were forced by injury, but the results still aren’t there. His team has been outscored 12 to 7 on the road. They’ve only earned one point after conceding first, and are 2-6-6 on the road. With an away playoff game looking increasingly inevitable, he needs to figure out these attacking issues quickly.

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.

Gallery: Nashville SC vs. Richmond Kickers

Nashville SC bounced back from a loss against Bethlehem Steel Saturday with an emphatic 4-0 victory against Richmond Tuesday. The occasion was the most goals Nashville SC has scored in a single contest, and the first time a Nashville player has scored multiple goals in a contest since vs. Louisville City May 13, when Tucker Hume notched a brace for the Boys in Gold.

Check out our photos from the match. All photos were by Golden Goal’s Andy Simmons.