Robert Castellanos debut goal earns a Nashville point in Toronto

Nashville SC earned another point on the road on Sunday night, splitting the points with Toronto in their first trip north of the border.

Formation

Gary Smith continued with the back three system that’s proven effective in recent weeks. Robert Castellanos made his MLS debut in the middle of the backline, getting the news he’d start the match just an hour before kickoff, as travel restrictions took their toll. Alistair Johnston returned to the lineup just three days after going the full 90 against Mexico in the Gold Cup semifinal.

Dan Lovitz didn’t make the matchday squad despite being out of the league’s health and safety protocols, while Jalil Anibaba wasn’t included due to Canada’s Covid border restrictions.

Run of play

Toronto opened the scoring through Omar Gonzalez. The towering center back took advantage of sloppy set piece defending from Dave Romney and Robert Castellanos to ghost through the box and beat Joe Willis with a header to the far post.

The two defenders made up for it just before halftime, though. Romney found Castellanos in the box with a signature long throw in, and the debutant found the back of the net with a crafty flicked header. Minutes after the goal, Alistair Johnston nearly doubled the lead with a header cleared off the line.

After the break, Nashville dominated. Castellanos and Romney nearly combined for a second goal early in the second period, while Hany Mukhtar and CJ Sapong saw chances saved towards the end of the match. The last several minutes of the match saw nervy defending, with Castellanos making a last-ditch tackle to deny Toronto a late winner.

Big picture

Nashville certainly did enough to win the match, doubling Toronto’s shots and creating several high-value chances after their equalizer. However, given the lack of starting players on the back line, a point on the road against a talented, if struggling, Toronto side isn’t a panic-button type of result. The draw sees Nashville maintain their third place spot with 27 points from 16 matches, while Toronto moves up into 10th place.

Up next

Things don’t get any easier for Nashville, who will travel straight to New England for a match against the first-placed Revolution. Nashville beat them 2-0 in their previous meeting at Nissan Stadium, but the Revs are one of the best sides in the league, and an away match against them on the road is a difficult task.

Lineups

Toronto (5-3-2): Bono; Laryea, Zavaleta, Gonzalez, Mevinga, Morrow; Delgado, Bradley ©, Priso (Osorio 58′); Altidore (Dwyer 76′), Soteldo

Nashville (3-4-2-1): Willis; Miller, Castellanos, Romney; Johnston (Maher 68′) , Anunga (Muyl 63′), McCarty ©, Washington; Leal (Loba 77′), Sapong (Cádiz 76′), Mukhtar

Stats

Possession: TOR 53% – 46% NSH
Shots: TOR 6 – 12 NSH
Shots on goal: TOR 2 – 3 NSH
Expected goals: TOR 0.54 – 1.33 NSH
Goals: TOR 1 – 1 NSH
Passes: TOR 490 – 425 NSH
Fouls: TOR 8 – 9 NSH
Yellow cards: TOR 0 – 1 NSH
Red cards: TOR 0 – 0 NSH

Highlights

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