Nashville SC continued their exceptional home form with a 3-1 win over high-flying New York City FC.
The two sides played on a Friday Night so they did their best “Friday Night Lights” impression right before half time. Turns out Dax McCarty does a pretty good Tim Riggins. But the night started innocent enough. Two sides who are down considerable numbers via injury and international duty were a bit sloppy through the opening 20 minutes.
If anything, Nashville were looking a little worse for the wear. New York had the better of the ball, and led shots 9-2 while things were still knotted at 0-0. But as so often happens in this game, a moment of pure skill turned things on its head. And as has been the case for much of this season, that moment came from Hany Mukhtar. Nashville’s talisman collected a Dax McCarty long ball and was able to brush off the defender and fire away a tight angle shot. Johnson wasn’t up to the task and that gave Nashville a 1-0 lead at the 30-minute mark.
Nashville weren’t done immediately pressing forward. Daniel Ríos played a cross through the goal face where CJ Sapong was waiting. He wasn’t needed, however, as Latinovich made a last ditch effort to clear the ball and netted it himself. Tough luck for the NYC defender who has an OG in only a games worth of minutes this season (H/T Tim Sullivan).
From there, things started to get a bit chippy. A hard foul on Taylor Washington brought out the first card of the evening, and that ended up being a flash point from which there was no return. In the 42nd minute, Washington was again chopped down, this time drawing no card. McCarty taking issue with this went in on a 50/50 ball, that was contested tough on both ends. The call ended up being a drop ball, that Moralez took before Dax had addressed.
Again, taking issue Dax ran straight through the back of Moralez. After this mayhem ensued. Moralez was incensed and grabbed a hold of McCarty’s throat. Field players from both sides charged in (Lovitz and Tinnerholm come to mind) and soon both benches were entirely cleared. Punches were thrown, throats were grabbed and at the end of it two red cards were shown, one to Moralez and one to McCarty. I’m not certain these were the only reds that should’ve been shown, but on balance it probably wasn’t the worst way to handle things. Five minutes of added time saw a spicy first half come to an end.
The second half progressed without much incident (by the first half’s standards). Muyl came on for Rios to adjust the formation following McCarty’s departure. The space left by he and Moralez was felt early and often. Both sides had room to explore, but it was Nashville who looked the more likely to add a goal. Mukhtar had one goal ruled for off sides, before eventually making it 3-0 off a Sapong assist in the 68th minute.
That would end the scoring for NSC. Castellanos eventually grabbed a consolation goal (though you could argue he should’ve been sent off in the first half scrum). And that’s where the evening would end, a dominant yet crazy 3-1 win for Nashville. Loba, Cadiz, Lagrassa and Haakenson all made cameos late, and all looked VERY good in action.
We haven’t seen nearly as much of Loba as we’d like, but in the moments we get, I’m always thrilled with his work rate and the space that he finds. Cadiz looked particularly lively in his first minutes since a shocking miss against Inter Miami.
You couldn’t ask for much more out of this side down four starters and playing the hottest team in MLS. They more than answered the bell, and much like last year are rounding into form at exactly the right time.