Nashville SC were defeated for the first time in 2022, falling 2-0 to FC Dallas in Frisco, who get their first win under new manager Nico Estevez.
Nashville head coach Gary Smith continued with the same eleven he’d used in his prior two matches, the first time he’s used an unchanged team for three straight matches with Nashville in MLS.
On the pitch
Nashville struggled with Dallas’s energy from the outset. The movement and dynamism of the Dallas front line had the backline scrambling, and in possession the Coyotes were sloppy and couldn’t build any sustained pressure.
Just before halftime, Dax McCarty took a knock to his left knee, and after receiving treatment, tried to continue on. Just two minutes into the second half, the captain went down again off the ball and was forced to come off, limping heavily on his way back to the bench.
After weathering a particularly energetic onslaught from Dallas late in the second half, Nashville gave away a penalty through substitute Jack Maher. The defender’s first involvement in the match pushed down Paul Arriola, who went down rather easily in the box, but received enough contact to warrant a penalty.
Two minutes after Franco Jara dispatched the spot kick to give Dallas the lead, Alan Velasco put the nail in Nashville’s coffin. The $10 million DP signing marked his Dallas debut with a brilliant solo goal, pouncing on an Aké Loba turnover to beat four Nashville defenders before scoring off the underside of the crossbar.
The big picture
Three games into an eight match road stretch, Nashville won’t be too unhappy with four points. Concerns will be raised with how they dealt with the pace of the game, seemingly having no answers to Dallas’s movement. The Coyotes posed no threat at the other end, taking just five shots and astonishingly not attempting a shot in the second half.
Aké Loba’s lack of inclusion continues to perplex fans. The $6.8 million striker doesn’t seem to have a natural place in the squad. He’s turned into the third or fourth option off the bench, and is clearly behind Teal Bunbury in the attacking depth chart. Perhaps more concerning is the fact that his play on the field hasn’t made a strong case for him to be more involved.
Nashville are three matches into a 34 match season, and are more than surviving this early road stretch. But if they want to do more than survive, they need to improve.
Possession: DAL 56% – 44% NSH
Shots: DAL 13 – 5 NSH
Shots on goal: DAL 5 – 0 NSH
Expected goals: DAL 1.35 – 0.21 NSH
Goals: DAL 2 – 0 NSH
Passes: DAL 405 – 317 NSH
Fouls: DAL 13 – 15 NSH
Yellow cards: DAL 3 – 4 NSH
Red cards: DAL 0 – 0 NSH