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.
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.
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.