Nashville SC’s return to Nissan Stadium was a triumphant one. 183 days after their MLS debut in front of 59,069 fans in Nashville, the Boys in Gold earned their first home win in a much different atmosphere, with empty stands and resounding echoes a stark contrast in atmosphere to the raucous fans and blazing guitar solos that provided the soundtrack to their inaugural match. A moment of class from Aníbal Godoy was the difference for Nashville, securing a 1-0 win over fellow expansion side Inter Miami CF.
Head coach Gary Smith made a number of changes to his starting lineup, resting Dax McCarty and Hany Mukhtar, and giving a team debut to Alex Muyl and a league debut to Brian Anunga.
Starting XI for #NSHvMIA:— Speedway Soccer (@SpeedwaySoc) August 31, 2020
Willis; Johnston, Zimmerman, Romney, Lovitz; Muyl, Anunga, Godoy (c), Leal; Badji, Danladi
BENCH: Panicco, Anibaba, Miller, Washington, McCarty, Jones, Mukhtar, Accam, Ríos#EveryoneN pic.twitter.com/beIAWrM6r2
Nashville controlled more of the ball to start the match than usual, getting into the final third well but not creating too much of note. Badji ran the channels diligently as usual, and nearly brought down a couple of balls over the top, but found himself isolated up top.
It appeared as though the home side had found a breakthrough, as Alex Muyl headed come a cross for what looked like his debut goal in gold. However, upon VAR review, the referee deemed Muyl to have fouled a defender and the goal was overturned.
Nashville continued to look for an opening in the second half, and finally found it through Aníbal Godoy in the 52nd minute. Wearing the captain’s armband, the midfielder collected a rebound at the top of the box and shifted the ball on his non-preferred right foot, curling an effort into the top corner.
Aníbal Godoy! Whatta strike! ? #NSHvMIA pic.twitter.com/Tr2CL4NSKj— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 31, 2020
Nashville nearly added another 20 minutes later. Second half substitute Hany Mukhtar collected the ball on the top of the box and took a positive touch, drawing a foul and earning a penalty. Mukhtar stepped up to take the spot kick, but smashed his effort off the crossbar.
Without a two goal cushion, Miami peppered Nashville’s goal, racking up 16 total shots over the course of the night. Walker Zimmerman was a massive presence at the back as always, with rookie Alistair Johnston putting in a shift at right back to preserve the clean sheet.
The victory moves Nashville into 11th place in the Eastern conference, with seven points from seven matches. They’re back in action on Wednesday night, taking on Orlando City at Nissan Stadium.
Shots: Nashville 5 – 16 Miami
Shots on goal: Nashville 2 – 5 Miami
xG: Nashville 1.16 – 0.74 Miami
Goals: Nashville 1 – 0 Miami
Possession: Nashville 47% – 53% Miami
Yellow cards: Nashville 3 – 3 Miami
Red cards: Nashville 0 – 0 Miami