NASHVILLE, TN – Nashville SC aren’t trending in the right direction heading towards the MLS Cup Playoffs. On Saturday night, the Coyotes fell 1-0 to Orlando City in a drab, listless performance. They haven’t won a league match since July 1 (2-0 vs. DC United) and once again missed an opportunity to gain ground in the Eastern Conference table.
Gary Smith was forced into a bit of rotation, with Shaq Moore rested. Otherwise, his lineup was a strong one.
On the pitch
Nashville started the match brightly. They managed five shots in the opening 25 minutes, as many as they had over the entire 90 minutes in last Saturday’s scoreless draw with Seattle. And early, while Orlando were pushing high, Nashville looked dangerous on the break.
As the game wore on, Orlando dropped deeper and were less aggressive with their lines, and Nashville began to struggle to find space in the final third. The Lions found a goal just two minutes before the break through Duncan McGuire, who finished instinctively at the near post.
Initial replays certainly appeared as though McGuire was offside, although further inspection of the pass is less obvious. The goal was not sent to an on-field review, though, and it stood.
I don't think it's nearly as egregious as it looked initially, but probably still just off. Surprised it didn't get a look. pic.twitter.com/rtxWEUx1yo— Ben Wright (@benwright) October 5, 2023
Up a goal, Orlando spend the second half in a clinic on killing momentum. They allowed Nashville minimal space to run in the final third, kept the ball in front of them, and killed the clock off frustratingly well. Even with eleven minutes of added time, Nashville never really looked threatening, especially after Dan Lovitz was shown a second yellow card. They didn’t take a single shot after the 85th minute, and they didn’t put a single shot on goal for the entire 90 minutes.
Simply put, for a team that has been public about their trophy aspirations (and were a penalty kick shootout away from silverware just over a month ago), it’s been a disaster of a performance in the second half of the MLS season. They’re limping into the playoffs with no momentum, and the optimism from the fanbase has completely evaporated.