NASHVILLE, TN – Nashville SC cruised into the Leagues Cup semifinals on Friday night, blowing past Minnesota United in a 5-0 romp. The win was the largest margin of victory in Nashville’s history.
With Joe Willis absent due to personal reasons, Elliot Panicco got the nod in goal. After his heroics in penalty shootouts in the last two matches, Panicco’s second start in the Leagues Cup came in the knockout rounds.
On the pitch
After a tight opening period, the game flipped on its head when Minnesota defender DJ Taylor was shown a red card in the 34th minute. The defender inadvertently brought down Jacob Shaffelburg, who was through on goal, denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity. The Loons certainly had a case that the call was harsh, but it stood.
Five minutes later, the Coyotes opened the scoring, again with Shaffelburg heavily involved. The Canadian speedster drove a low ball into the box, flicking off of Hany Mukhtar and into the path of Shaq Moore, who had a simple finish. Teal Bunbury doubled the lead just before the break, snapping a loose ball in from close range.
With Sam Surridge on at halftime, Nashville found acres of space and began to methodically break open the Loons’ defense. Mukhtar whipped in a perfect cross for Muyl to head home in the 50th minute. Three minutes later, Surridge scored his second in as many games, after an inch-perfect diagonal ball from Dax McCarty set Shaffelburg into space before crossing to Surridge.
Mukhtar made it five before the 60 minute mark, capping off a crisp team move with a trademark finish at the near post.
The big picture
The red card changed the game, but it was all Nashville. The Coyotes jogged to their biggest-ever margin of victory, and probably should have found the net a few more times.
The win sends them into the Leagues Cup semifinals. They’ll face Liga MX powerhouse Monterrey on Tuesday night at Geodis Park for the right to play in the final. Win or lose, Nashville will play again on Saturday, August 19, in either the final or third-place match.
In their fourth year as an MLS club, Nashville SC are just two wins away from lifting their first-ever trophy.