NASHVILLE, TN – Ethan Zubak continued his tradition of playing the hero for Nashville SC in the U.S. Open Cup. The 25-year-old striker’s 71st minute goal proved to be the winner against San Antonio FC, propelling the ‘Yotes to the Round of 32.
Gary Smith rotated heavily, making nine changes to the side that drew LAFC this weekend. Only Alex Muyl and Jack Maher kept their places in the XI, and both were taken off at the half.
Playing in a 3-4-3 shape, Laurence Wyke made his competitive Nashville SC debuts. Ján Greguš took the captain’s armband in his first start in gold.
On the pitch
Reigning USL Championship winners San Antonio held their own throughout the match, and had a case to be the better side in the first half. The visitors put pressure on Elliot Panicco’s goal, forcing the understudy to make a handful of strong saves, including a double save from close range.
His best work came after the half. Zico Bailey hit a swerving shot from range, forcing Panicco to react quickly and adjust mid-flight to palm the ball wide.
Sweet dear lord, Panicco 💪 | @NashvilleSC— U.S. Open Cup (@opencup) April 27, 2023
0-0 | #USOC2023 pic.twitter.com/HOQMlXCGJG
Nashville’s halftime substitutions proved to be the difference makers. Fafà Picault brought a burst of energy to the frontline. In the 71st pressed hard to win possession back in the final third, reclaiming the ball just outside the box and squaring it for a wide open Ethan Zubak.
Ethan Zubak breaks the deadlock 💥 | @NashvilleSC— U.S. Open Cup (@opencup) April 27, 2023
*sensational approach work from @Fafagoal23 pic.twitter.com/9DNV7XxOJT
It was a simple finish for Zubak, who capped off an energetic performance with the game winning goal.
Notably, Joey DeZart made his Nashville SC debut. His substitute appearance marks the first time a player for Huntsville City FC, Nashville’s reserve team, has earned minutes with the first time. It’s an encouraging sign for Nashville’s newly established development pipeline, and one they may have to lean on more in the Open Cup and upcoming League’s Cup.