Nashville fall flat in Houston

A disjointed and flat Nashville SC side never got out of first gear in Houston, falling 2-0 to the Dynamo, despite playing up a man for nearly an hour.

The XI

Gary Smith rotated his side, making five changes to the side that beat Atlanta United 3-2 in Wednesday night’s US Open Cup match.

With Hany Mukhtar, Walker Zimmerman and Aké Loba starting on the bench, Nashville began the match without a Designated Player on the field.

On the pitch

With a rotated squad, Nashville never looked up for it. Adalberto Carrasquilla opened the scoring for Houston just 16 minutes in. Joe Willis parried a shot back into the box, where Nashville’s defenders were caught flat footed. Carrasquilla reacted quickly and had his pick of an empty net in which to finish.

Nashville caught a lifeline after 35 minutes. Adam Lundqvist was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Alex Muyl, seemingly opening the door for the visitors.

The Coyotes were even worse up a man, despite bringing on Hany Mukhtar at halftime. Fafa Picault got behind their defense all too easily and earned a penalty kick minutes into the second period, and Darwin Quintero converted calmly to secure the match for Houston.

Nashville had chances to get back into the match. CJ Sapong hit the bar, while Mukhtar and Zubak each missed a handful of solid chances from inside the box, but neither could put their efforts on target.

The big picture

Nashville couldn’t capitalize on their momentum from midweek. Gary Smith took a chance on squad depth, heavily rotating his side with a heavily congested schedule. It backfired. The team looked flat and out of sync from the opening whistle. They lacked ideas going forward all night, and even up a man were suspect defensively.

Playing on the road is tough in MLS, but Saturday night’s performance was among their poorest in MLS. With an in-form Montreal side coming to GEODIS Park on Wednesday, there’s little time to improve. And Nashville badly need to show improvement.

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