Against a gritty DC United side, Nashville SC came away victorious. The expansion side picked up all three points and extended their unbeaten run at home since MLS restarted play. Forward Daniel Ríos got off the mark for the first time in MLS, with his second half goal proving to be the winner for Nashville.
Head coach Gary Smith was forced into a couple changes from the start. Taylor Washington replaced Dan Lovitz, who was serving a single-match suspension for yellow card accumulation. With Randall Leal, Hany Mukhtar, David Accam and Abu Danladi all out due to injury, striker Dom Badji slid over to the right wing and Derrick Jones played in an advanced midfield role.
#NashvilleSC Starting XGI for #NSHvDC:— Speedway Soccer (@SpeedwaySoc) September 23, 2020
Willis; Johnston, Zimmerman, Romney, Washington; McCarty, Godoy; Muyl, Jones, Badji; Ríos
BENCH: Panicco, Anibaba, Maher, Beckeles, Miller, LaGrassa, Anunga, Leal, Winn#EveryoneN pic.twitter.com/WUXL1RGiF3
Smith was forced into a change early, as Badji went down with an apparent hamstring injury in the 21st minute. Alan Winn replaced him, fresh off his first MLS start in Columbus.
Against a defensive DC side, Nashville had far and away the better of the chances in the first half. Derrick Jones was especially bright, winning a pair of free kicks on the edge of the box and causing DC’s defense problems with some really decisive runs.
Jones also drew a pair of yellow cards from Russell Canouse, with the DC midfielder seeing red just before the halftime whistle.
Nashville continued to chase a goal in the second half. Jones saw a shot blocked after a great run into the box, and Bill Hamid made a pair of saves to deny Winn and Alistair Johnston, the former of which was a spectacular effort to parry a close-range header.
It was Daniel Ríos who found the breakthrough. The striker got onto a flick from Dave Romney after a corner and headed home at the back post to give Nashville the lead. It was his first goal in MLS, becoming the 10th Nashville SC player to score a goal this season.
After the goal, DC threw numbers forward, despite playing at a man disadvantage. The visitors, however, were unable to really test Nashville’s defense, with the Boys In Gold controlling possession throughout the match and were able to close out the game relatively comfortably.
The win keeps Nashville in 9th place in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of Atlanta United. DC United drops to last place in the conference, three points out of a playoff spot.
Nashville will take on Houston Dynamo on Saturday at 2:30, in a nationally televised match on Univision.
Shots: Nashville 16 – 4 DC United
Shots on goal: Nashville 5 – 1 DC United
Expected goals: Nashville 1.27 – 0.57 DC United
Goals: Nashville 1 – 0 DC United
Possession: Nashville 61.2% – 38.8%
Yellow Cards: Nashville 1 – 1 DC United
Red Cards: Nashville 0 – 1 DC United