Film Friday: tactical shifts and defensive fragility

Hello and welcome to another Film Friday!

Nashville SC lost two matches in a row for the second time this season. We will cover some factors that played a part in those losses.

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First, let’s start with the players missing. Nashville SC lost four core players due to international duty and injury. Missing Picault, Shaffelburg, Godoy and Bunbury all at the same time affected this team greatly. With these players missing, Gary Smith decided to change to a back three to accomodate.

Now, let’s be clear: no formation is inherently good or bad. It all depends on how the team utilizes it. 

So, let’s dig in. The switch to a back three allows for more stability at the back, but you lose some presence in the midfield. When that happens, you are accepting the risk that battles will be fought closer to your own goal, and there will be more space for your opponent. In that case, your defensive unit needs to operate at a really high rate and be resiliant.

If the battles are fought higher up the pitch, mistakes will be more costly. To be fair to Nashville’s defense, they kept up well with Montréal. However, they made one big mistake that resulted in Montréal’s goal and cost them the game. Let’s look at that goal.

Montréal are given a lot of space, and because of an easy pass, all of a sudden Nashville find themselves defending at the edge of the box. If Nashville had tidied up a bit, they would have had this battle further from their goal and instead of a center back like Jack Maher, one of the midfielders would have dealt with that. 

Ibrahim does really well to beat Maher and combine with Toye, and put himself in a great position. Dan Lovitz reacts really well to that and blocks Ibrahim’s path. At this point, Nashville has six players in the box to Montréal’s three. But because of all the shifts, Nashville find themselves disorganized and leaving a lot of space for Duke at the edge of the box. In an ideal world, one of the midfielders would have covered the shot. 

Lastly, because of the congestion in the box, it makes it really hard for Joe Willis to see exactly where the ball is going. With his vision blocked, he lets in a goal that he would normally have saved.

Not having a focal point, not having a number eight and other factors also played a big part in the disappointing result. But those each deserve their own video. 

Thank you for watching, and please remember to share and follow.

Author: Valair Shabillamoved to Nashville as a refugee from Iraq at the age of 14. A fan of soccer from a young age, he used soccer to connect with a larger community in Nashville and adapt to life abroad. He's covered Nashville SC since 2019, co-hosting Pharmaceutical Soccer, and analyzing soccer from an audio/video perspective.

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