Poor set piece defending again costs Nashville points at home

Nashville SC couldn’t break the deadlock late in the game against Orlando City on a rainy night at Nissan Stadium, with both sides sharing a point in a 1-1 draw. Nashville pressed for a goal late in the match, but missed opportunities in the final third and late adjustments left them with their sixth home draw of the year.


Gary Smith rolled out something very close to a first choice lineup, with Walker Zimmerman wearing the captain’s armband in his first start since June 3.

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Brian Anunga got a start in midfield, with Dax McCarty taking a turn on the bench, while the in-form front three of Hany Mukhtar, CJ Sapong and Randall Leal got another run out.

Run of play

Nashville started the match brightly, creating several chances in the opening stages, while simultaneously leaving space for Orlando to exploit in behind. Add in the torrential rain and waterlogged field, and the match was one of the more end-to-end encounters of the season.

CJ Sapong continued his rich vein of form, finishing off a Nashville counter in the 23rd minute. Hany Mukhtar again was at the heart of the move, exchanging a quick give and go before setting Sapong up for the goal.

After the opening 30 minutes, though, Orlando took the momentum. The Lions mounted plenty of pressure, creating plenty of chances, including a Tesho Akindele header that rang the bar. In the 58th minute, Mauricio Pereira found center back Antonio Carlos in space in the box on a set piece. The defender had shed his marker, and was able to beat Joe Willis with a well-taken header.

Nashville eventually got back on top, and had a couple good looks at goal in the dying minutes, but it was too little, too late.

Big picture

It felt like a similar story for Nashville. Their eighth goal allowed from a set piece resulted in their sixth draw at home. Nashville were able to create chances, as has become typical for them this year. But they also struggled to make the most of their possessions in the final third, picking the wrong pass around the box or settling for a low-percentage shot when other options were open.

That’s not to say that there weren’t chances to get a second goal; they had several. But the performance lacked composure and final product in key moments, and it cost Nashville needed points at home.

On the plus side, the point combined with NYCFC’s loss to Philadelphia means that Nashville is in sole possession of second place in the East.

Up next

Nashville SC have a 10 day break before a mid-day trip to Atlanta, while Orlando return home.


Nashville (3-4-2-1): Willis; Maher (Washington 79′), Zimmerman ©, Romney; Johnston, Godoy, Anunga (McCarty 72′), Lovitz; Leal (Muyl 72′), Mukhtar (Aké Loba 88′); Sapong (Ríos 79′)

Orlando (4-2-3-1): Stajduhar; Smith, Carlos, Jansson, Moutinho; Urso, Desart; van der Water (Ruan 89′), Pereira (Mueller 84′), Michel (Schlegel 83′); Akindele (Mas 89′)


Possession: NSH 44% – 56% ORL
Shots: NSH 14 – 14 ORL
Shots on goal: NSH 4 – 3 ORL
Expected goals: NSH 1.05 – 1.01 ORL
Goals: NSH 1 – 1 ORL
Passes: NSH 326 – 455 ORL
Fouls: NSH 17 – 12 ORL
Yellow cards: NSH 3 – 3 ORL
Red cards: NSH 0 – 0 ORL


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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