Nashville couldn’t continue their home form in their final regular season match at Nissan Stadium. The Boys in Gold fell 1-0 to FC Dallas, the first time they’ve lost at home since their opener against Atlanta United, 249 days ago.
After a 1-1 draw with Chicago Fire, head coach Gary Smith made wholesale changes to his team, switching to a back five that featured rookie Jack Maher alongside Walker Zimmerman and Dave Romney.
Nashville started the match slowly, with Dallas stretching the field vertically and horizontally. It was the visitors who took the early lead. Ryan Hollingshead got behind Nashville’s backline after a ball over the top from Jesus Ferreira. Zimmerman initially recovered well, blocking the first attempt. However, the rebound fell Hollingshead’s way and the defender finished past a sprawling Joe Willis.
After the goal, things got worse for Nashville. Maher pulled up with an apparent knee injury in the 28th minute and was replaced by Jalil Anibaba, further solidifying Nashville’s commitment to the back five.
Nashville struggled in the formation. Daniel Ríos and Randall Leal, playing as the two strikers, were isolated from the midfield and found touches on the ball hard to come by. With Eric Miller and Dan Lovitz the only sources of width, Dallas were able to commit numbers centrally and eliminate and real threats from Nashville.
Smith made a change at halftime, taking off Ríos in favor of Jhonder Cádiz. Cádiz, however, struggled with many of the same issues, isolated from the rest of the team and primarily tasked with bringing down long diagonals.
Smith made a few other attacking changes, putting on Alex Muyl and Derrick Jones, as well as giving Handwalla Bwana his club debut.
It wasn’t until late in the match that Nashville started to threaten. Jalil Anibaba had a shot cleared off the line following a corner kick. Eric Miller headed over from close range, and Jhonder Cádiz had a couple attempts go narrowly wide.
Ultimately it wasn’t enough for Nashville. While just their second loss at home all season, it was one that could cost them in their bid to get out of the play-in round. The loss has them in eighth place in the East with a points-per-game total of 1.32. Nashville could overtake New England Revolution with a win over Orlando and a New England loss on Sunday, but they’d need to win by multiple goals to beat out the Revolution on tiebreakers.
Nashville’s decision day match will kickoff against Orlando City at 2:30 on Sunday.
Shots: Nashville 12 – 10 Dallas
Shots on goal: Nashville 4 – 6 Dallas
Expected goals: Nashville 1.08 – 0.95 Dallas
Goals: Nashville 0 – 1 Dallas
Possession: Nashville 55.5% – 44.5% Dallas
Yellow cards: Nashville 0 – 1 Dallas
Red cards: Nashville 0 – 0 Dallas