Nashville SC hadn’t been beaten by more than two goals in 160 professional matches, dating back to the start of 2018 at the USL level. Their worst-ever loss under Gary Smith came in match number 161, a 4-1 loss to first-year Charlotte FC.
Smith trotted out an unsurprising lineup, going with the back three formation he’s used heavily over the last two seasons.
On the pitch
In a fairly even first half, Charlotte pulled ahead from the penalty spot. Brian Anunga was fortunate not to receive a second yellow for a foul in the box, and captain Christian Fuchs calmly slotted home. 15 minutes after the halftime break, Karol Świderski doubled the lead. The Polish international got in between Walker Zimmerman and Dave Romney, easily out-jumping the latter to head home.
It appeared that Nashville had found a lifeline into the match after Hany Mukhtar earned and converted a 67th minute penalty kick, his 10th goal of the year. But as the Coyotes pushed for an equalizer, Charlotte took advantage of the space they left. The hosts scored in the 89th and 91st minutes to emphatically secure all three points, handing Nashville their worst loss under Smith.
The big picture
Nashville again had an opportunity to go into third place and couldn’t take advantage of it. The last five matches have been arguably their worst stretch of games in MLS, taking just five points largely against sides outside the playoff spots.
They haven’t taken advantage of home matches, of which they have plenty left to play, and they don’t have clear difference makers off the bench in attack. With two difficult home matches against Seattle Sounders and Los Angeles FC at Geodis Park this week, they can’t afford to continue this form any longer.