Nashville SC failed to advance past the US Open Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday night, losing 2-1 to Inter Miami CF in Ft. Lauderdale.
Against a Miami side fielding a full-strength lineup, Gary Smith made wholesale changes. Jack Maher was the lone player left in the lineup after a 2-1 win in Charlotte on the weekend, with Randall Leal coming back into the side.
On the pitch
Nashville held their own, despite the rotation. They were able to create a couple decent chances on the break, and overall limited Miami to mostly speculative efforts in the first half.
12 minutes into the second half, Miami found the breakthrough via Franco Negri, who was able to get behind the backline before calmly finishing over Elliot Panicco.
Nashville answered quickly through Alex Muyl. The substitute got on the end of a cross from Laurence Wyke just 50 seconds after entering the match, heading home from close range to draw level.
Just as Nashville seemed to have the momentum, a weather delay paused the game for over half an hour. Minutes after restarting, Miami took the lead through substitute Nicolás Stefanelli. The forward got on the wrong side of Josh Bauer, beating the defender to the goal before burying his shot at the near post.
Nashville pushed for an equalizer, but ultimately fell short.
The big picture
It’s a disappointing exit for Nashville, who have historically prioritized the Open Cup heavily. Just yesterday, Hany Mukhtar called it “the easiest way to win a trophy” in an interview with CBS’s The Goalazo Show.
Heavy rotation got the job done against FC Dallas’s first team in the Round of 32, but against another first-choice MLS side, making 10 changes certainly impacted Nashville’s quality. With the congested calendar, Smith opted to prioritize league play over the Open Cup. It may not be the wrong choice, but it certainly puts more pressure on Nashville to maintain their league form and push for a top four spot with the Open Cup no longer in play.