POSTMATCH PRESSER: Gary Smith rues missed chances against Atlanta

Nashville SC’s Gary Smith, Dax McCarty and Dan Lovitz spoke to the media following their 2-0 loss on the road against Atlanta United. Below is a transcript of their comments.

Gary Smith (Head Coach)

On tonight’s performance: “Well first of all I’m certain that the two-nil score line doesn’t reflect the way the game unfolded. The stats will bail me out in the fact that we had certainly more openings and opportunities. It will also bail me out in the fact that we were nowhere near as clinical enough in those opportunities, which is an Achilles Heel that we have at the moment. We’ve got to try and find a way to remedy that. In terms of the way that we applied ourselves, the fact that we came into this difficult field, Astroturf is very slick and very different to the way that we probably will have to play in too many places and against a very technically efficient team of course. I think we limited them to two shots on target in the first half and one of them was a goal. Plenty of efforts, plenty of opportunities that we were certainly not clean enough and clinical enough. We’re still managing to keep ourselves in a very good and efficient shape to restrict a good side. In terms of progression and that’s the way I have to look at it, I think we’re moving in the right direction. We need somebody who can find the back of the net, 100 percent.”

Shop MLS Jerseys at

On if the positive play on the field not resulting into positive results is an expansion team woe: “If you’re saying an expansion team, what immediately springs to mind is a team that is lacking cohesion and understanding and structure. I don’t think that’s us. What we’re looking at here is a group that in ridiculously strange circumstances we’ve been stop, start, lots and lots of time off from each other. We’re going to take some time obviously to find a real pinnacle of our play in any department. When you look at what is going on in the final third, it’s not that we’re not creating, it’s not that we’re not actually a very decent unit defensively, what it is, is that a feel and a sparkle from individuals that haven’t played for a long time. What we’re seeing certainly from our guys is a lack of goal appreciation. I’d be more concerned if we weren’t creating chances, I do also think that to maintain confidence in the group, we have to at some point convert. Otherwise what we’ll start to see is a group of players that get despondent about the way they’re playing and their ability to actually make chances, but not get themselves in front. I certainly don’t want that to happen because we have bigger confidence issues then. It’s far too early to be worried about that. It certainly is a concern, I wouldn’t want to see this go on for too long, given the way we’re performing and creating.”

On how you see the lack of scoring improving: “Well let’s look at the main areas of creation and just as importantly, execution. If you look at tonight’s game, there’s a lot of weight on the shoulders of Dominique Badji, Hany (Mukhtar) and Randall (Leal). For those guys, would we say at this point, are they firing on all cylinders? Three games after not playing five months, I think even the biggest critic of us would be saying that these guys need a little more time to find their footing and certainly get into a rhythm. If you look at some of the better opportunities that came along, it was from working into space and getting beyond. Quite frankly running out of quality into some excellence situations and overloaded situations. We could also point a finger; do we make enough in the set pieces? From corners and from free kicks. Yet again, timing of delivery and the runs that are made, the ability to find the right spot and area that we’ve practiced and worked on is not quite coming at the moment. We’re just missing that spot, we’re just missing that opportunity. There’s loads of work to be done on this, my despondency comes from playing well away from home, yet getting beat two-nil. Did we deserve to get beat two-nil? No. Did we deserve to get beat one-nil in Portland? No. If you don’t score, if you don’t convert, there’s a chance this will happen. Yes, we have to correct this and yes it’s going to be a process that we have to keep pushing. Do we need some additions as well? Quite possibly and that’s something we’re constantly looking at to try and continue our development as a team.”

Dax McCarty (Midfielder, Captain)

On the work rate against Atlanta United’s Pity Martínez: “Yeah, I mean I think that’s the reason why he is the South American Player of the year a few years ago. He played at one of the biggest clubs in Argentina. He is played a lot of money to be a difference marker and score those types of goals. Obviously, Atlanta in general and him have been in a little bit of a slump. I think it was foolish to expected them to not be able to create any chances whatsoever, especially playing at home motivated after a poor MLS is Back Tournament, but that’s what you pay for, the quality like that. I think we have that type of quality in our team, we are just not clicking yet in the attacking third. We have two goals from five games, I think that obviously speaks to where we are at on the attacking side of the ball. It’s not just our attackers, its everyone all eleven players are involved all the way back to Joe (Willis) to the defenders who are fullbacks getting involved in the attack to our midfielders giving our attacking players a platform to be successful. And ultimately it comes down to our attacking players having joy, and having freedom, having confidence. I think we are lacking a little bit of confidence right now on the attacking third. We are getting into good areas we just aren’t super clean and super crisp in the ways we are going about trying to get goals. So, I think the chances are going to continue to come, I think we have a good team we have good attacking players, it’s just a matter of getting the ball in the back of the net, scoring one and then getting a few more to back those up.”

On recovering after the through ball to Alistair Johnston: “It happened pretty quickly, it looked like there was a guy that had time and space on the ball midfield Pity (Martinez) had been floating pretty much all over the field, he is a guy that doesn’t really have a set roll they give him the freedom to go wherever he pleases, he then coming inside looking to try and get in behind the midfield try and create chances that way. Wasn’t having a lot of success, wasn’t having a lot of joy so I believe he started out wide, I am going to have to see the goal again, I think it was a simple ball over the top. In behind our fullback he takes a good touch forward and then and goes and does his thing 1v1 and has a good finish past Joe Willis. I think that’s preventable, I think that every goal this year that we have conceded this year has been preventable but ultimately these are things that we are going to have to continue to work on. Good players are going to get into good positions, he is always going to find ways to be dangerous around the box and it’s just a matter of making a play and standing him up and making sure we don’t give up a goal there. Ultimately that’s not the reason we lost the game, I think that you can’t expect us to get shut outs every single week, that would be nice that’s our goals but it’s almost impossible for even the best teams in the world who continue to get shutouts back to back to back so, we need to make sure that when we do concede goals, on the attacking side of it we are backing our defenders up and scoring goals and being dangerous on the flip side of that.”

Dan Lovitz (Defender)

On moments of pay off when they have the ball: “It’s a mentality more than anything, you look at our players, you look at theirs, I think we all have good defenders we have good attacking players in certain moments we have to make sure that even though we may be creating consistent opportunities and putting pressure on the team all it takes is a split second of real conviction and real what you call killers mentality, at least I would characterize it as that for the ball to go into the back of the net for their second goal. They break on us we do a decent job of getting It back, seems like the danger is taken out of the situation and then a guy decides he is going to put the ball in the back of the net no matter where anyone else on the field is and that’s what happened credit to him, it was a great strike on the second goal. I think in those moments we either have to be selfish or have some more conviction, like I said I think that will go a long way. I think it certainly can be done on both sides of the ball and as a defender there are certain moments where I definitely think we need to do better. I think that the first goal represents that for us collectively and the second goal again is more again a very, very well hit ball and a situation where we were a pressing where we are trying to find the goal to get back into the game and they break on us and the guy hits an incredible shot so credit to him.”

On assessment on how set pieces are going: “I think generally speaking it’s an area where we should be productive. I think a lot of that relies on the guys on the ball, myself and Hany (Mukhtar). There are certainly some instances in games of the past and tonight where the service wasn’t good enough, there are other times where we get a good service into a game area and it’s what we have worked on and we are not connecting on that first one. Whatever that may be. We do have a lot of the hype we do have the guys who are very, very attack minded when it does come to those situations and I think it’s about taking a deep breath and execute and recognizing that, that is a real opportunity for us. Again, I am very much looking forward to when that piece clicks, because it will and it’s going to be a nightmare for other teams. So, we are going to be patient with that, again I think set pieces are very important and understand that that is a source of a lot of goals in the modern game. At the end of the day, it’s not the bulk of our work, it’s not what we are focusing on. Take time, we need a lot of time for that of course, we prep for that, we practice it, we drill of it but at the end of the day we want to be putting five goals in the back of the net with every team without set pieces so it will be a nice supplement to our attack, but definitely want to be taken seriously and do better on it.”

Transcript provided by Nashville SC Communications.

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

Leave a Reply