NASHVILLE, TN – Nashville SC’s 2023 season fizzled to an end on Tuesday night. The Boys in Gold crashed out of the MLS Cup Playoffs with a 1-0 loss to Orlando City at Geodis Park, finishing the series without a win and without scoring a goal.
Gary Smith went with his strongest lineup, bringing Dax McCarty back into the team after injury and giving Lukas MacNaughton a start in place of Jack Maher.
On the pitch
Prior to the match, Gary Smith told media that while Nashville couldn’t win the match in the first 15 minutes, they could lose it. Unfortunately, they lost it in the first six minutes.
Dax McCarty, usually the most reliable passer in the Coyotes’ midfield, committed an egregious giveaway just outside his own box. Iván Angulo pounced, intercepting the ball and jockeying it away from Walker Zimmerman before his shot took a looping deflection over the head of a helpless Joe Willis.
Nashville were doomed from that point on. In fact, down a goal at home in an elimination match, they were outshot 16 to 10 by Orlando, creating just 0.55 expected goals and failing to significantly threaten Pedro Gallese’s goal. It was as toothless as Nashville have ever looked in a knockout match.
Hany Mukhtar had a goal rightfully ruled out for offside. Apart from that, Sam Surridge snatched at a couple shots and Alex Muyl saw a tame header saved. Nashville’s season ended with a whimper, never looking up for a match of this importance.
The big picture
It’s hard to immediately take stock of a season like this after a loss like Nashville’s last night. We’ll have plenty of analysis, reaction, and opinion over the coming days and weeks. Nashville will quickly transition to offseason mode, with just 90 days until they begin their 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup campaign.