Recap: Nashville SC fall to Messi-less Miami at Geodis Park

NASHVILLE, TN – Nashville SC lost just their second match under interim head coach Rumba Munthali on Sunday night, falling 2-1 to a shorthanded Inter Miami CF at Geodis Park.

The XI

It was an unchanged lineup from Munthali, who continued using Sam Surridge as a target left winger underneath Teal Bunbury.

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With Isaiah Jones starting for Huntsville City the night before, Munthali selected a short bench.

On the pitch

Nashville started the match brightly, getting the ball out in space and testing goalkeeper Drake Callender a couple times before things went sideways just before halftime. Two moments of sloppy set piece defending allowed the visitors to take a two-goal lead into the break. The first came from 21-year-old Ian Fray, who cut in front of Jack Maher to head home from a corner.

The second was a world-class strike from a world-class player. Spanish international Jordi Alba took advantage of an under-hit clearance from Dan Lovitz, taking a quick touch before ripping an unstoppable half-volley into the side netting.

The goals weren’t exactly against the run of play – Miami outshot Nashville 10-4 in the first half, and were able to consistently find space between the midfield and defensive lines to set up. In the second half, they retreated into a lower block, absorbing pressure and hitting on the counter. Nashville threw plenty of pressure at them, but couldn’t turn it into many clear chances on goal.

Hany Mukhtar eventually pulled on back from the penalty spot, notching his 100th goal involvement in the last four seasons, but it was too late for the Coyotes to mount a full comeback.

The big picture

Nashville weren’t bad, but they looked much less capable of creating danger moments than they have in the past. Part of this was the opponent – Miami have assembled more depth than any team in MLS history, and are an elite opponent even without Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez, Matias Rojas and others. Part of this was leadership – Tata Martino is one of the most astute coaches in the league, and has gotten match-winning performances out of squad players and SuperDraft picks.

But Nashville didn’t show nearly enough from open play to deserve three points. Aside from his penalty kick, Mukhtar was again rather quiet from open play – he had no key passes and managed just 0.10 xG, putting just one of his three shots on target. In the month of June, he had zero goals from open play, just two shots on target, and 0.54 xG. His form has come down to earth hard in the last calendar year, and getting him performing at a top-10 level to match his new contract should be at the top of the priority list for the new manager.

On the bright side, Forster Ajago continued to impress off the bench. In his 34 minute shift, he added energy and a bit of chaos to the mix, pressing hard and causing Miami problems simply by being relentless.

He’ll probably want that chance back, but it’s a chance he created for himself solely through outworking Miami and getting to the ball first. That will turn into goals soon for Nashville – it already has for Huntsville.

Post-match quotes

Stats

Possession: NSH 52% – 48% MIA
Passes completed: NSH 447 – 407 MIA
Shots: NSH 9 – 14 MIA
Shots on goal: NSH 5 – 5 MIA
Penalty kicks: NSH 1 – 0 MIA
Expected goals: NSH 1.42 – 0.84 MIA
Goals: NSH 1 – 2 MIA
Fouls: NSH 3 – 11 MIA
Yellow cards: NSH 1 – 1 MIA
Red cards: NSH 0 – 0 MIA

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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