CINCINNATI, OH – For the second time in three days, Nashville SC finished a match with nine men. Their 3-1 loss to FC Cincinnati again saw a strong performance wasted by a lack of discipline and poor situational awareness, as red cards to Taylor Washington and Fafà Picault turned the tide in favor of Cincinnati.
With starting fullbacks Dan Lovitz and Shaq Moore serving their suspensions after their red cards on Wednesday night, head coach Gary Smith switched to a five-man backline to absorb the inevitable pressure.
On the pitch
The ‘Yotes weathered a shaky 15-minute opening period, in which Cincinnati saw a goal called back on video review. As the half went on they began to find more space in which to operate, eventually taking the lead through Walker Zimmerman in the 31st minute in the aftermath of a set piece.
11 minutes later, Alex Muyl inadvertently blocked a cross in Nashville’s box with his arm, and Lucho Acosta dispatched the ensuing penalty for his 12th goal of the year.
In the 68th minute, Nashville lost the match. Taylor Washington was shown a second yellow card for touching the ball with his hand. Two minutes later, Fafà Picault was also shown a second yellow after the frustrated attacker put his shoulder through the back of Santiago Arias.
Washington’s sending off seemed to be a genuine mental lapse. Picault had been battling with Matt Miazga and appeared close to boiling over for much of the match, raising questions about Smith’s decision to keep him on the field with Jacob Shaffelburg available off the bench.
With a two-man advantage, Cincinnati turned the screws. Arias scored the winner, and newly-signed DP striker Aaron Boupendza iced the cake in stoppage time, securing a 3-1 win.
The big picture
Things aren’t great in Nashville. They’ve lost four of the last five, have been shutout in three, and Hany Mukhtar was virtually invisible in Cincinnati. After a 10-match unbeaten run created conversations of a Supporters’ Shield challenge, they’re now barely hanging on to a home playoff spot.
The entirety of MLS will break for a month for the first edition of the Leauge’s Cup tournament, giving Nashville a badly-needed chance to figure things out. We’ll have plenty more analysis and some in-depth looks into their struggles over the coming weeks at Broadway Sports Media.