Nashville SC came back from behind to beat DC United emphatically, scoring five goals at Nissan Stadium for the second time this season. CJ Sapong and Alex Muyl each scored a brace, with Hany Mukhtar scoring his eighth goal of the year.
Head coach Gary Smith continued with the 3-4-2-1 system he’s used for much of the season. Alistair Johnston returned to the starting lineup after an ankle injury kept him out in Miami, while Walker Zimmerman made the bench for the first time since he left for the Gold Cup on June 3.
Notably, striker Jhonder Cádiz wasn’t included in the squad after missing a golden chance late in the game in Miami, with Daniel Ríos taking his spot on the bench.
Run of play
Once again, the visitors found the net first at Nissan Stadium. DC United opened the scoring just three minutes in through Frederic Brillant headed home a Julian Gressel corner kick. It was a bit of déjà vu for the Boys In Gold, who have conceded first at home six times this season.
Nashville bounced back quickly, though. CJ Sapong struck in the 14th and 31st minute, including a goal in which all 10 outfield players touched the ball in the buildup. Hany Mukhtar added a third, smacking a rocket of a shot off the crossbar and in, before DC’s Ola Kamara pulled one back just before halftime with a well-taken volley.
While the first half was a two-way affair, the second was all Nashville. The Boys In Gold came close one multiple occasions before substitute Alex Muyl scored a brace to ice the result for Nashville. Walker Zimmerman made his return from injury off the bench, while striker Daniel Ríos put in a lively cameo, including setting up Muyl for a penalty kick.
The big picture
Nashville followed up arguably their worst performance of the season with one of their best. Against a DC United side that hadn’t lost in five matches, Nashville weathered a tough opening 15 minutes and figured out how to play through DC’s high press. It was a much needed win for the home side, who needed points after taking just two from their road trip last week. With just six home matches left on the season, they need to make the most of each outing at Nissan.
They did that tonight, and played some of their most attractive football of the year in the process.
CJ Sapong and Hany Mukhtar continued their Best XI cailber form, each with eight goals on the season. Nashville got much needed shifts off the bench as well, with Alex Muyl killing off the game and an en encouraging and energetive shift from Daniel Ríos.
It’s another quick turnaround for Nashville, who take on fourth place Orlando City on Wednesday. Just a point ahead of them in the table, it’s another match in which three points gained is almost as important as three points denied to the other side.
Nashville (3-4-2-1): Willis; Maher, Anibaba (Zimmerman 60′), Romney; Johnston, McCarty (Anunga 77′), Godoy, Lovitz; Leal (Muyl 77′), Sapong (Ríos 84′), Mukhtar (Loba 85′)
DC United (3-4-3): Kempin; Birnbaum (Mora 73′), Brilliant, Alfaro; Gressel, Moreno, Nyeman (Skundrich 46′), Paredes (Aliba 74′); Arriola, Kamara, Reyna (Flores 74′)
Possession: NSH 51% – 49% DC
Shots: NSH 17 – 8 DC
Shots on goal: NSH 8 – 4 DC
Expected goals: NSH 2.57 – 1.25 DC
Goals: NSH 5 – 2 DC
Passes: NSH 339 – 327 DC
Fouls: NSH 13 – 15 DC
Yellow cards: NSH 0 – 0 DC
Red cards: NSH 0 – 0 DC