Recap: Nashville SC steal late draw in Colorado

A 90th-minute Teal Bunbury penalty kick salvaged a draw for Nashville SC against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night, stealing a point in an uninspiring performance from both sides.

The XI

With Hany Mukhtar, Sam Surridge and Randall Leal still injured, Gary Smith went with a back five, clearly set on keeping Colorado from scoring even at the expense of production at the other end.

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Taylor Washington started his fifth consecutive match to start the season, while captain Walker Zimmerman got the nod for the first time in MLS after returning to the XI against Moca midweek.

On the pitch

It was certainly not a showcase of attacking football from either side. The two teams combined for just 15 total shots, with Colorado unable to break down Nashville’s compact block and Nashville unable to manufacture any repeatable patterns of play in the final third.

Colorado broke the deadlock just after halftime through Shaq Moore. The Nashville defender attempted to clear a cross, but completely misjudged the ball, heading it off the ground and into the top corner of his own goal, catching Joe Willis in the friendly fire.

Smith made a handful of attacking options, bringing on Dan Lovitz, Shaq Moore, McKinze Gaines, Alex Muyl and Brian Anunga to attempt to claw back a point. The Coyotes couldn’t do much apart from get the ball wide and cross into the box, and looked set to return home with a drab loss.

Instead, one of their crosses paid off. After a ball made its way all the way across the box, Rapids winger Jonathan Lewis accidentally hit the ball with a flailing arm, giving away a completely unforced penalty kick. Teal Bunbury stepped up to the spot, calmly dispatching the kick in the 90th minute to give Nashville a very fortunate point on the road.

The big picture

The point for Nashville was solid. The way it happened was anything but. Yes, injuries to key attackers are hard to overcome for any team, but the lack of any semblance of attacking identity outside of Hany Mukhtar has been concerning for four seasons. There’s no clear attacking identity from the team as a whole that can carry them when Mukhtar isn’t on the field. That’s not sustainable. It’s not an overreaction two matches into the season, either; the signs have been there for years.

Nashville head back to Music City with a Concacaf Champions Cup matchup against Inter Miami on the cards, the same Inter Miami who dismantled Orlando 5-0 earlier on Saturday. It’s a tough task with a full lineup. If Mukhtar and Surridge remain injured, the task is even more daunting.

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

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