On a crisp Halloween evening, Nashville SC secured a 1-1 draw against a Chicago Fire team that is in a fight for one of the final playoff spots. The point keeps Nashville level with New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution but in 8th place due to tiebreakers. The story line from the start was the omission of Hany Mukhtar after being listed as medically cleared.
Post match Gary Smith said about Mukhtar, “He’s physically healthy. He’s been out two or more weeks. He just needs more work. He’s working well. He’ll be available for selection next game.”
Chicago Fire FC started the match like a team that knows their playoff hopes are on the line and through the first 10 minutes were on top of Nashville. The tide began to change about midway through the second half as Nashville was able to break the deadlock in the 98th minute.
Randall Leal picked up a loose ball after a Nashville freekick and played a short cross into the Chicago box that Daniel Ríos was able to get his head to. The far post header was a thing of beauty and a nice reward for Nashville’s sustained pressure but lead was short lived.
From the restart, Chicago Fire were right back to attacking Nashville and finally got their reward in the 42nd minute after Mauricio Pineda played a gorgeous through ball to an overlapping Boris Sekulić. An equalizer that keeps Chicago alive in the playoff hunt.
The second half was all Chicago as they came out strong to start the half and managed to dominate possession for long stretches of the match. To Coach Smith’s credit, he did try and change things up to regain control. Jhonder Cádiz and Abu Danladi came on in the 59th minute replace Derrick Jones and Daniel Ríos but were unable to make an impact. Nashville was able to gain control for a short while after a change in shape with introduction of Brian Anunga but were unable to turn the tide.
Post game Coach Smith had nothing but praise for the Chicago team saying, “It was always going to be a tough night. They’re a very good footballing side. Over all disappointed to go into the half 1-1. IN the second period we lost control of the midfield. It wasn’t our best night, but we showed some of the qualities that we have before.”
Nashville has a short turnaround as they prepare for one final home game against FC Dallas on Wednesday. The match will pull Nashville level on matches played and set them up for decision day on November 8th.
Shots: Nashville 10 – 12 Chicago
Shots on goal: Nashville 1 – 5 Chicago
Goals: Nashville 1 – 1 Chicago
Possession: Nashville 36.9% – 63.1% Chicago
Yellow cards: Nashville 1 – 0 Chicago
Red cards: Nashville 3 – 1 Chicago