Recap: Nashvile grind to scoreless draw with Red Bulls in home opener

NASHVILLE, TN – Nashville SC opened their 2024 MLS Season with a scoreless draw against New York Red Bulls on Sunday afternoon at Geodis Park.

The XI

Hany Mukhtar and Sam Surridge were injury questions heading into the match, and both were left out of the squad entirely.

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With Nashville’s two most dangerous attackers out of the picture, Gary Smith started Teal Bunbury at the no. 9, playing with Sean Davis at the base of midfield flanked by Alex Muyl and Dru Yearwood.

On the pitch

New York dominated the first half. Nashville were suffocated by the Red Bulls’ press, struggling to find any kind of footing and rarely able to get a touch on the ball outside their own half. Meanwhile the visitors were able to get in behind Nashville’s defense to a worrying degree, with Dante Vanzier hitting the inside of the post after a long diagonal bypassed both Nashville center backs.

Smith shifted things during the half, pinching Shaq Moore inside to play as a right center back and alleviate some of the pressure. It was a brutal 45 minutes for Nashville, who were by far the second best team on the pitch and were lucky to go into the break even.

Nashville were even luckier to have 11 men going into the break. Sean Davis was shown a straight red card for a high kick on Peter Stroud, but the call was reduced to a yellow card after video review.

Nashville gradually improved in the second half, as Tyler Boyd carried the bulk of the chance creation burden. Red Bulls still dominated, hitting the post another two times, first from a long-range shot from Frankie Amaya and then on an Emil Forsberg free kick.

Gary Smith brought on Walker Zimmerman, who spent the offseason recovering from the Achilles issue most of last season, and Aníbal Godoy. The veterans changed the game for Nashville, giving them a foothold and allowing them to push for a goal.

They nearly found one late, when Tyler Boyd’s shot was tipped over the bar by Carlos Coronel. A goal wasn’t in the cards for either side, though, and the two teams shared the points for the third time in their history.

The big picture

It wasn’t pretty for Nashville, and they were in survival mode in the first half, but a point is certainly not the worst result. Missing as many as five starters, including all three of their Designated Players and their two primary attackers, it’s no surprise they struggled to create chances; most MLS clubs would.

Nashville certainly didn’t look like an elite side, but it’s hard to look elite against the Red Bulls, short handed and after a midweek match requiring significant travel. This team may have issues, but it’s hard to pinpoint anything from their MLS opener as systemic issue and not simply circumstantial.

Stats

Goals: NSH 0 – 0 RBNY
Shots: NSH 5 – 18 RBNY
Shots on target: NSH 3 – 5 RBNY
Possession: NSH 45% – 55% RBNY
Passes: NSH 319 – 421 RBNY
Yellow cards: NSH 3 – 0 RBNY

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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