Nashville attack sputters, but resolute defense earns draw in Salt Lake

Nashville SC didn’t put on the type of attacking show their fans have become accustomed to in 2021, but their defense was on full display on the road in a scoreless draw with Real Salt Lake.

Head coach Gary Smith continued with the 4-4-2 formation, making no changes to last week’s eleven. Dom Badji and CJ Sapong continued their partnership up front, while Hany Mukhtar and Handwalla Bwana returned from injury to appear on the bench.

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Nashville started brightly, but as the match grew on they struggled to connect passes, with the frontline disconnected for large stretches of the match.

While the attack struggled to create high value chances, the strength of the backline was on full display. The Boys In Gold limited the Claret and Cobalt to no shots on target, keeping their third consecutive clean sheet. They’ll return to Nashville to take on expansion side Austin FC on Sunday night.

Three things

1. Third straight clean sheet. After conceding four goals in their first two matches, Nashville have kept their goal in tact for three straight matches. Not just that, but they didn’t allow a shot on target. It’s a welcome return to form for the strength of Nashville’s team, and one that, paired with an improved attack, could see better results for Nashville going forward.

2. Struggles in possession. Nashville struggled to connect passes from back to front in ways we haven’t seen yet this season. While they generated chances, it was much more choppy and sporadic than their opening matches. But…

3. Solid point on the road. While it wasn’t pretty, getting a point in Salt Lake is a good result. RSL has been in good form, and it’s the longest road trip Nashville will face this year. Staying undefeated and returning home to take on an Austin FC side that’s struggling isn’t a bad spot in which to be.

Stats

Shots: RSL 12 – 12 NSH
Shots on goal: RSL 0 – 3 NSH
Expected goals: RSL 0.84 – 0.65 NSH
Goals: RSL 0 – 0 NSH
Possession: RSL 56% – 44% NSH
Fouls: RSL 6 – 10 NSH
Yellow cards: RSL 1 – 1 NSH
Red cards: RSL 0 – 0 NSH

Highlights

Author: Ben Wrightis the Director of Soccer Content and a Senior MLS Contributor for Broadway Sports covering Nashville SC and the US National Team. Previously Ben was the editor and a founder of Speedway Soccer, where he has covered Nashville SC and their time in USL before journeying to Major League Soccer since 2018. Raised in Louisville, KY Ben grew up playing before a knee injury ended his competitive career. When he is not talking soccer he is probably producing music, drinking coffee or hanging out with his wife and kids. Mastodon

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