Diving deep into Sam Surridge’s dazzling debut

Sam Surridge delivered a dazzling performance in his debut for Nashville SC. The club’s newest Designated Player immediately lived up to his billing with a thrilling game-tying goal followed up with a cheeky panenka in the penalty shootout. 

In one night, Surridge created a memorable moment that outshines the best performances from Nashville’s previous DP forwards, Jhonder Cádiz and Aké Loba.

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If Surridge can continue to replicate his performance against Club América, he will solve the striker riddle that has plagued Nashville SC for years. 

Let’s take a further look at his debut. 

All touches

The video below highlights each of Surridge’s touches on Tuesday night against Las Águilas. For the majority of his shift, Surridge did not have an impactful on-the-ball contribution, due in large part to América’s dominance on the ball. However, Super Sam came running to the rescue when Nashville needed it most. 

More on the goal

Surridge’s stoppage-time goal perfectly encapsulates the traits that Nashville SC had to find in its DP striker search. While providing a towering aerial threat, he also possesses enough straight-line speed to factor into Nashville’s counterattacks. Even though Teal Bunbury provides ample amounts of dirty work that helps spring the likes of Hany Mukhtar, Jacob Shaffelburg, and Fafà Picault, you hardly ever see him on the ending sequences to the Coyotes’ counterattacks. Just having a striker that can add another runner into the box will make all the difference for Nashville’s goal-scoring threat.

In total, it was an all-around contribution from Surridge leading up to the goal. My colleague, Ben Wright, highlighted it perfectly. 

Ice in his veins

I cannot imagine having the stones to attempt a panenka on your debut. 

Perhaps more so than anything in soccer, nothing looks quite as embarrassing as a failed panenka. For example, fans across the league chuckled at Chicharito’s failed panenka in a crucial moment of last year’s playoff race. 

If you attempt a panenka, you must maintain 100% confidence that the goalkeeper will be fooled and the ball will wind up in the back of the net. Anything less than supreme confidence will result in utter embarrassment. 

With all the pressure applied on a Designated Player in their debut match, Surridge must have ice coursing through his veins. You can call him “Iceman.” 

Taking up good positions

Throughout Surridge’s 36 minutes of action, He took up great positions on the pitch. He constantly popped up in dangerous spots, even if the ball did not make it his way.

Surridge made the right runs and showed glimpses of chemistry with Hany Mukhtar, beyond just the stoppage-time goal.

Most importantly, Surridge often played on the back shoulder of América’s defense. Having a striker constantly putting pressure on the opponent’s backline is an element that Nashville has needed and has been missing since arriving in MLS.

Surridge nearly scored in the 81st minute as he split two defenders, took advantage of the confusion, and found himself alone right in front of the net.

Minutes later, Surridge made a back-post run that put him in a dangerous position should Shaq Moore have been able to play a ball across the box.

Later, Walker Zimmerman picked out Surridge’s run. Sebastián Cáceres shielded Surridge off the ball and drew the foul. However, these are the types of runs behind the backline that we have not always seen with regularity from others.

Little defensive impact

Surridge made little impact on the defensive end on Tuesday night. However, there is little cause for concern. One week of training provides little time to drill in pressing triggers. Plus, América dominated the ball in the second half as Nashville sat back and absorbed pressure leaving little action for Nashville’s forward line.

The video below highlights Surridge’s defensive actions.


Overall, Surridge produced a dazzling debut. One that certainly will not be forgotten by Nashville supporters for a long time, and one that will leave them encouraged about Nashville’s future.

Author: Chris IveyChris is a senior writer covering Nashville SC. His writings focus on the team at large and often navigate the complexity of roster building around the myriad of MLS rules. Outside of Broadway Sports Media, Chris resides in Knoxville and is a licensed attorney. Beyond NSC, he is always willing to discuss Tennessee football and basketball, Coventry City, and USMNT. Follow Chris on Twitter

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