Nashville SC were the better side for most of the match on Saturday night at Soldier Field, but fell 1-0 to Chicago Fire after a self-inflicted goal. The Coyotes have failed to score or earn a point in their last three road matches.
With Fafà Picault back from international duty, Gary Smith named a straightforward lineup, with one notable exception:
Hany Mukhtar started the match on the bench after experiencing a slight ankle knock in training on Thursday. He had started Nashville’s last 19 matches in league play.
On the pitch
Nashville created more chances, even before Chicago took the lead in the 34th minute. Jack Maher was too loose with a pass out of the back, easily intercepted by the Fire’s Fabian Herbers. Herbers played a quick one-two pass, and finished emphatically past Joe Willis to put the hosts ahead.
Maher came close to equalizing minutes later, but pushed off of defender Miguel Navarro in the process. The goal was waived off.
Mukhtar came on at the half, and came close to delivering for Nashville. He saw a free kick saved in the top corner by goalkeeper Chris Brady, and then rattled the post with a curling effort in the dying minutes of the match.
Substitute Luke Haakenson also saw a chance flash just wide, but ultimately Nashville were let down by Maher’s mistake and an out-of-sorts performance in the final third.
The big picture
Nashville didn’t lose much ground in the Eastern Conference, with FC Cincinnati drawing against Charlotte FC and New England Revolution controversially losing to New York Red Bulls. But with both their closest competitors dropping points, it’s certainly hard not to view it as a missed opportunity to gain ground against one of the conference’s weaker sides.
Nashville head into the League’s Cup break with potentially the biggest single week in club history. They’ll take on sixth place Philadelphia Union at Geodis Park on Wednesday. Then they’ll travel to league-leaders FC Cincinnati on Saturday.
Nashville could finish the week in pole position for the Supporters’ Shield, or they could end it looking up at the top four. They cannot afford performances like they showed tonight.