Recap: Nashville SC shut out Messi in Miami

Nashville SC did what no team in North America had done on Wednesday night: shut out Lionel Messi and Inter Miami. The Coyotes left South Florida with a scoreless draw, their first point in MLS in their last five matches.

The XI

Nashville’s lineup was headlined by their absences. Designated Players Walker Zimmerman and Sam Surridge both missed the match with unspecified “lower body injuries”, while Joe Willis was relegated to the bench with a foot issue.

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Hany Mukhtar was also given a bit of rest, starting the match on the bench and coming on at halftime.

On the pitch

Nashville picked up where they left off against Miami, significantly limiting the Herons from the run of play. Miami took 13 total shots, but only tested Elliot Panicco in goal four times, and the helmet-clad ‘keeper was more than up for the challenge.

Once Mukhtar entered at the break, Nashville looked significantly more dangerous. He fired a shot just over Drake Callender’s goal with his first touch of the match, had a goal called back for offside, and was denied a certain goal by an extraordinary tackle from Canadian international Kamal Miller.

Nashville thought they had a chance to take the lead late in the second half when DeAndre Yedlin blocked a cross from Jacob Shaffelburg with his hand. After video review, though, Shaffelburg was discovered to have been offside in the buildup, and the two sides left with a point each.

The big picture

After conceding four goals against Atlanta in the club’s worst-ever defeat, playing in Miami was a daunting task. In the nine matches since Messi’s debut, the Herons had scored a staggering 27 goals. Messi himself had 11.

Nashville’s defense quickly rebounded, becoming the first North American side to keep Messi off the scoresheet. They didn’t just hang on, either. They comfortably shut him down, conceding just 1.07 expected goals and allowing zero shots on target in the first half.

Obviously, a 0-0 draw isn’t an earth-shattering result. But given injuries to key players and Miami’s red-hot form, it’s a result they’ll take. Saturday’s home match against Charlotte FC has three points as a requirement, with the ‘Yotes four points out of the top four and home field advantage in the playoffs.

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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