Nashville SC bow out of the US Open Cup in quarterfinal shootout

Nashville SC were three minutes away from hosting a US Open Cup semifinal. Things changed quickly on Wednesday night at Exploria Stadium; a late Orlando City equalizer and a penalty shootout later, and the Coyotes bow out of the competition in the quarterfinals.

The XI

Gary Smith unsurprisingly fielded another strong lineup, making just two changes to the side that beat DC United last weekend.

Elliot Panicco got his third start of the season in goal, while Brian Anunga replaced Sean Davis in midfield.

On the pitch

Nashville were the better side for much of the night. Hany Mukhtar and CJ Sapong were dangerous, especially in the first half, and the visitors created the bulk of chances. Mukhtar put the ‘Yotes ahead in the 53rd minute, somehow wrapping his foot around a defender to finish a cross from Alex Muyl. It was his third goals in as many Open Cup matches this season.

Nashville looked set to advance until referee Mark Allatin whistled Brian Anunga for a very soft foul in second half stoppage time.

Orlando equalized from the ensuing free kick. Panicco, who had put in a spectacular performance before then, flapped at the cross, allowing Rodrigo Schlegel to bundle home the rebound in the 94th minute and send the match to extra time. Just two minutes into extra time, Sean Davis was sent off after receiving his second yellow card (Nashville’s 11th of the night), leaving the ‘Yotes to play the final 30 minutes down a man.

Nashville hung on through extra time, but once again were let down from the spot. Alex Muyl skied his opening attempt, and while Panicco made a strong save to send the shootout to sudden death, Eric Miller missed his effort to give Orlando the win.

Nashville are out of the Open Cup in the quarterfinals. They’ll take on Portland Timbers at Geodis Park on Sunday night.

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.

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