Recap: Nashville SC again blow lead at home, lose 2-1 to Philadelphia

NASHVILLE, TN – Nashville SC’s poor stretch of form continued on Saturday night at Geodis Park, conceding a 90th minute goal to lose 2-1 to the Philadelphia Union.

The XI

Gary Smith agains went with the back five shape he used against the Crew last weekend, with Jacob Shaffelburg playing a hybrid winger/wingback role once again.

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On the pitch

Nashville started the match the better side. They dominated the first half, outshooting the Union seven to three and winning the expected goals battle by a landslide. Shaffelburg was especially bright on the left wing, with Hany Mukhtar constantly involved and on the ball in the final third. Sam Surridge capped off the half with a 42nd-minute goal, heading home a delicious Shaffelburg cross for his first strike in league play.

The second half was an entirely different story. In the 59th minute, Union manager Jim Curtin brought on midfielder Alejandro Bedoya for left back Kai Wagner, switching from a back five to Philadelphia’s traditional 4-3-1-2 shape. Nashville had absolutely no answer, either for the tactical shift or the increase in energy.

Philadelphia equalized through Julian Carranza in the 62nd minute, just three minutes after the formation changed. After going level, they kept Nashville on the back foot for the final 30 minutes, outshooting them six to two and pressing hard for a winner.

They got one at the death. Dan Lovitz stepped forward to try and win the ball from a corner kick, leaving Daniel Gazdag completely unmarked at the back post for an uncontested header. Gazdag made no mistake with his third goal of the year, smashing his header off the bar and in to crush Nashville in the final minute.

The big picture

Things are not good in Nashville.

Seven games. Seven points. Negative five goal differential. Four blown leads at home in all competitions. Nine goals conceded after taking the lead. Nashville are coughing points away at an alarming rate, and the bleeding hasn’t stopped.

The lack of urgency is concerning. The lack of game changers on the bench is concerning. When chasing a goal at home, the only changes Gary Smith made was to bring on midfielders Sean Davis Amar Sejdić, who have a collective seven goals and 29 assists in 323 career appearances.

Most concerning, though, was how easily the entire team was overwhelmed by a simple formation change and a boost in energy. It was nothing revolutionary from Jim Curtin – he simply reverted his team to how they’ve primarily played for the last five season. And yet Nashville had no answers.

After the match, Gary Smith publicly called for help in the transfer market, a rare (even first-time) occurrance in his seven seasons at the club. Getting another option, especially in midfield, would help. Getting Walker Zimmerman, Tyler Boyd, Shaq Moore and Randall Leal back from injury will help. But the issues in Nashville run far, far deeper than that.

This team is a shell of its peak in 2021.

Stats

Possession: NSH 51% – 49% PHI
Passes completed: NSH 266 – 251 PHI
Shots: NSH 11 – 13 PHI
Shots on goal: NSH 5 – 5 PHI
Expected goals: NSH 1.85 – 1.32 PHI
Goals: NSH 1 – 2 PHI
Fouls: NSH 10 – 9 PHI
Yellow cards: NSH 1 – 0 PHI
Red cards: NSH 0 – 0 PHI

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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