For the third time in 2021, Nashville have drawn 2-2 at Nissan Stadium. Against a depleted and struggling Atlanta side, Nashville’s defensive struggles continued. Two set piece goals negated an otherwise encouraging attacking performance, resulting in more dropped points at home.
Nashville head coach Gary Smith continued with the back three formation, with Alex Muyl in for Alistair Johnston on the right, Brian Anunga for Aníbal Godoy in midfield, and Jalil Anibaba for Walker Zimmerman at the back. Newly signed DP Aké Loba wasn’t available for selection just after arriving in Nashville, but was introduced to fans and the media ahead of the match.
Leal and Mukhtar were afforded plenty of freedom to move to space, while Dax McCarty and Brian Anunga covered loads of ground in midfield and were allowed to push forward.
Run of play
Sloppy defending again plagued Nashville. Alex Muyl lost his man at the back post on a fifth minute free kick to concede the opener, while Jackson Conway was given plenty of space to find the back on the net on a 59th minute corner to head the ball into the goal. These are the type of goals Nashville didn’t concede last year. These are the types of goals they’re conceding in bunches in 2021. And these are the type of goals that are costing them valuable points.
The attack wasn’t the problem. Mukhtar, Leal and CJ Sapong linked up precisely in the final third, creating plenty of chances. Anibaba scored his first in a Nashville shirt, and Mukhtar converted from the spot after an absurd handball from Cubo Torres. Nashville had a pair of goals called back for offside, and Mukhtar in particular forced Alec Kann into several saves.
At the end of the day, though, two goals at home should be enough for three points at home. Three times this season, it hasn’t been.
A win would have moved Nashville into third place in the East. With the draw, they drop into fifth place with 19 points through 12 matches. They’ve already played nine of their 17 home games for the season, averaging 1.89 points a game.
It’s great to be unbeaten at home. It’s not so great to have drawn five of nine at home to start the year. With just eight home matches over the next four months, and a much more difficult back end of the season, their margin for error is all but gone.
It doesn’t get easier for Nashville, who will face a suddenly dangerous Chicago Fire at home on Saturday, July 17 before going on the road for four of their next five. After the dropped points against a struggling and shorthanded Atlanta, a win is vital.
Nashville (3-4-3): Willis; Maher (Danladi 82′), Anibaba, Romney; Muyl (Danladi 81′), McCarty, Anunga, Lovitz; Leal, Sapong (Cádiz 72′), Mukhtar
Atlanta (4-3-3): Kann; Lennon, De John, Walkes, Sosa; Wolff (Ambrose 88′), Adams (Campbell 23′), Moreno; Choi, Torres (Conway 53′), Mulraney
Possession: NSH 50% – 50% ATL
Shots: NSH 17 – 6 ATL
Shots on goal: NSH 8 – 2 ATL
Expected goals: NSH 1.99 – 0.35 ATL
Goals: NSH 2 – 2 NSH
Passes: NSH 278 – 271 ATL
Fouls: NSH 16 – 17 ATL
Yellow cards: NSH 3 – 4 ATL
Red cards: NSH 0 – 1 ATL