NASHVILLE, TN – Nashville SC finally showed life in the final third, beating New England Revolution 3-2 on Saturday night, thanks to a first-half brace from striker Sam Surridge.
Aside from Fafà Picault on international duty and the injured Lukas MacNaughton, Gary Smith had a full roster to choose from, and went strong.
On the pitch
Nashville started the match incredibly brightly, testing Jacob Jackson’s goal early and often. Forward Sam Surridge thought he’d found the net for the first time in MLS after 13 minutes, smashing a terrific volley just inside the far post from an accute angle. He was offside in the buildup, but the finish belied real quality.
Just minutes later, Nashville found the breakthrough, and Surridge again was at the heart of it. He was unfortunate not to score again, thundering a header off the bar, only for Dax McCarty to smash the rebound into the top corner. It was his first goal November 20, 2020 – 1,059 days ago.
10 minutes later, Surridge added to Nashville’s lead with his first goal in Major League Soccer. Jacob Shaffelburg found the striker with a floated cross, affording Surridge a simple header from very close range. It was the first time Surridge had found the net since Nashville’s League’s Cup win against Monterrey back in August.
Unfortunately, it was one of the last involvements of the evening for Shaffelburg. Two minutes later, the Canadian speedster was caught by a hard and late challenge from Henry Kessler, leaving the winger hobbled and unable to continue. Despite the harsh challenge and the fact that the cross clattered off the arm of Omar Gonzalez, Shaffelburg didn’t earn a penalty for his troubles.
Surridge made it a brace in first-half stoppage time. In trademark Nashville fashion, the goal came from a lightning quick counter attack. After a flurry of stepovers, Hany Mukhtar played Surridge through on goal, and the former Nottingham Forest man found the far post with an understated and perfectly-weighted finish.
Nashville couldn’t find the same level of production in the second half. Tomas Chancalay pulled a goal back for the Revolution just minutes after the break, splitting the center backs to snatch a volley in from just inside the box. An uncharacteristic spill from Joe Willis in the 70th minute allowed Chancalay to make it a brace, giving Nashville a nervy ending to the match.
The big picture
Conceding twice was frustrating, especially in the manner that Nashville did. However, getting some form of attack up and running heading into the postseason is paramount, and Nashville certainly looked more like the version we saw during the Leagues Cup.
Sam Surridge badly needed an attacking performance like this to build on, and his connection with Hany Mukhtar and Jacob Shaffelburg was firing on all cylinders. Unfortunately, both Shaffelburg and Walker Zimmerman were forced out of the match with injuries. Their status will need to be monitored over the coming week.