Recap: Nashville SC rumble past Monterrey en route to Leagues Cup final

NASHVILLE, TN – For the first time in club history, Nashville SC will play in a final. The Coyotes toppled Mexican gigantes CF Monterrey, winning 2-0 in front of 27,732 fans at Geodis Park and reaching the final of the Leagues Cup.

The XI

Gary Smith made just one change to the team that rolled Minnesota 5-0, bringing in Aníbal Godoy in place of Brian Anunga.

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Elliot Panicco maintained his place in goal after Joe Willis missed the last match, and the gamble paid off for Smith.

On the pitch

Against the most talented side in North America, Nashville were fearless.

The ‘Yotes attacked Rayados from the start, and should have taken a 1-0 lead within the first 15 minutes. Hany Mukhtar struck an unstoppable curling shot just inside the far post, leaving goalkeeper Esteban Andrada completely helpless.

Astoundingly, after consulting video review, Walter López Castellanos decided to disallow the goal, somehow deeming Alex Muyl to be interfering with the goalkeeper from an offside position. It was an objectively poor call.

It was the type of call that so often can come back to haunt a team, but it wasn’t the case for Nashville. After finding themselves on the other side of a penalty call, with Lukas MacNaughton somewhat lucky not to concede a spot kick in the second half, the ‘Yotes took over.

Sam Surridge scored for the third consecutive game, with his 66th minute strike proving to be the winner. Walker Zimmerman’s header fell to Mukhtar’s feet in the attacking half, and the reigning MLS MVP turned and drew the defense towards him before playing Surridge in on goal. The Englishman made no mistake.

As Rayados pushed for an equalizer late, Nashville iced it. Fafà Picault opted not to take the ball to the corner flag, nor did he pass it to a wide open Surridge. Instead, he took it himself from a tight angle, roofing the ball into the net with a Mukhtar-esque finish to secure a historic result for Nashville.

The big picture

It’s hard to emphasize enough what a monumental win this is for Nashville. Monterrey are a juggernaut, the deepest and most talented side in North America and one of the elite three sides in Mexico. With just one loss in their last 13 matches, they’d left a trail of MLS clubs in their wake en route to the semifinals.

Nashville didn’t just survive against Rayados. They were the better side over 90 minutes. Smith’s side stuck stubbornly to their tactical identity, putting in the best defensive showing of their four-year history and wasting nothing in the final third.

It was a truly elite showing from Nashville. Now, they’ll play for a trophy for the first time ever, taking on Lionel Messi and Inter Miami on Saturday night.

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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