Recap: Nashville SC lose at home to league-worst New England

NASHVILLE, TN – Nashville SC followed up their midweek win in Cincinnati with a 2-1 loss at home to MLS Wooden Spoon leaders New England Revolution in one of the most frustrating nights for the club in recent memory.

The XI

Interim head coach Rumba Munthali kept his backline unchanged from Wednesday night, but changed his central midfield pairing and brought Tyler Boyd in to replace Jacob Shaffelburg. Teal Bunbury also returned to the bench, with Sam Surridge taking up his normal starting spot.

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On the pitch

Heading into the match, New England were on track for one of the worst seasons in MLS history. With just two wins and a negative 17 goal difference, the Revs were the clear underdogs heading in. They didn’t play like it, though. Just 18 minutes in, Carles Gil put the visitors ahead with a quality finish from outside the box. The 2021 MLS MVP skated past a three Nashville defenders, punishing their poor defending with a perfect finish to the bottom corner.

Five minutes into the second half, 19-year-old Esmir Bajraktarević doubled the lead with his first MLS goal, capping off a quick break with a rifled shot on his weak foot to the near post that left Joe Willis helpless to react.

Nashville got a lifeline into the game two minutes later when defender Xavier Arreaga handled the ball in the box and gave up a penalty. Initially given a straight red card, referee Ismail Elfath rightfully reduced it to a yellow card after video review. Hany Mukhtar stepped up to the spot after making his last six attempts, but hit his shot too close to center and goalkeeper Aljaž Ivačič made the save.

Nashville continued to bombard New England’s goal, coming close to scoring several times before former Boy In Gold Dave Romney brought down Walker Zimmerman in the box for another penalty, which Mukhtar this time converted.

Nashville fought hard to find the leveler. Mukhtar hit the post in stoppage time, and Zimmerman appeared to have been fouled in the box late in the game for an unprecedented third penalty, but the Revolution hung on for their third win of the season.

The big picture

There’s no way around it. The result is one of Nashville’s worst results ever. Losing at home to the worst team in the league just days after their best win in months is objectively bad. That type of result is one that could have significant post-season ramifications, and will be looked back on as a major missed opportunity.

Nashville’s performance wasn’t nearly as bad as the final result, though. They were actually dominant from the run of play, outshooting New England 26 to eight and conceding from the only two real chances they allowed. After shutting out one of the league’s best attacks on the road, Nashville made two sloppy defensive mistakes and were punished for them. After their defense was praised in Cincinnati, the defending for Bajraktarević’s winner was embarrassing.

Offensively, Nashville created quite a lot. Their 1.94 non-penalty xG was more than enough to score two of their own. Sam Surridge struggled to make an impact once again, though, The No. 9 touched the ball just 39 times, the fewest of any player on the pitch, and got on the ball just six times in the Revolution box. None of his three shots were on target, and while he offered more in possession than Bunbury did in Cincinnati, he’s still struggling to find his form.

Nashville played well enough to win, and have made real improvements in possession under Munthali, but there are no moral victories here, especially against a team as poor as New England. It will take a while to get rid of the bad taste from this result. They’ll have two weeks to recover and regroup before taking on New York Red Bulls after the international break.

Post-match quotes

Stats

Possession: NSH 63% – 37% NE
Passes completed: NSH 483 – 279 NE
Shots: NSH 26 – 8 NE
Shots on goal: NSH 5 – 4 NE
Penalty kicks: NSH 2 -0 NE
Expected goals: NSH 3.46 – 0.61 NE
Goals: NSH 1 – 2 NE
Fouls: NSH 12 – 14 NE
Yellow cards: NSH 1 – 3 NE
Red cards: NSH 0 – 0 NE

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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