The stats that defined Nashville SC’s 4-1 win over CF Montréal 

Nashville SC finally got back in the win column against an albeit inferior opponent, rolling past CF Montréal by a score of 4-1.

While more difficult challenges are around the corner, the pressure is relieved, at least temporarily. This match can be defined by the defense returning to form, a possibly fugazi attacking performance, and a Sam Surridge hat trick. Join me as I break it down.

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Is the defense fixed? I think it might be fixed.

Walker Zimmerman made his long-awaited return to the Nashville SC starting XI on Saturday, and, with it returned the defensive stability Nashville SC has long been known for.  Unlike the offense, the underlying defensive numbers were fantastic and make me optimistic for the future.

The Coyotes managed to frustrate Montréal, who were unable to penetrate their defense. They took 17 shots at the NSC goal, but most of them were little more than a prayer, with an average shot distance of 22.6 yards from goal and an average of only 0.04 xG/shot. Additionally, Nashville restricted MTL to just 13 touches in the box, which is their third-lowest total this season.

One own goal isn’t enough to sour my mood and Nashville will look to build on their performance against some more challenging teams in the weeks to come

Chance creation through the middle

Although they won on Saturday, it seems like Nashville still haven’t found a complete solution to these problems.

The first graphic is a map created by WhoScored and it shows the origin of NSC’s key passes (passes that led to a shot, with Nashville SC in orange). The majority of them came from the left side via Jacob Shaffelburg crossing or from corner kicks.

The second graphic is created by @MLSStat on Twitter, and it shows all of Nashville’s passes into the final third and penalty box. A shocking 0% of passes into the box came from the middle third of the pitch. This isn’t sustainable. When you eliminate one third of the pitch, the Coyotes’ attack becomes predictable. It leads to the major offensive struggles that NSC fans are all too familiar with.

There is, however, some nuance to this. Nashville doesn’t play with a true No. 10. They also lack a No. 8 who can create from the middle of the pitch.

Dru Yearwood, Sean Davis, and Aníbal Godoy usually sit deep and lack the ability needed to consistently play those dangerous passes, while Hany Mukhtar plays more advanced as a shadow striker next to Sam Surridge. This midfield positioning worked for Nashville on Saturday, but it has been inconsistent so far this season. It remains to be seen if Nashville can innovate and solve this issue when they face stronger opponents.

Gold star of the match: Sam Surridge

Who else could it be? The Designated Player No. 9 came through big time when Nashville needed him the most. After being the target of some recent online criticism from fans and pundits alike, Surridge showed his ability and silenced the doubters.

  • Six shots
  • Three shots on target
  • Three goals
  • 0.81 expected goals
  • Two big chances created
  • 6/12 ground duels won
  • 3/7 aerial duels won

Earlier this week I stressed the importance of creating chances for Surridge to finish with his feet. It’s unfair to judge his finishing ability when he only gets headed chances in a game.

Excluding Miami, which was a very poor game for him, he has only recorded 0.54 xG with his feet this season. In the Montréal match alone, he more than doubled that amount and he currently sits with five goals from 4.6 xG in MLS play this season. Give him consistent service and he will score.

What stood out from you from the match? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.

Author: Jeff RemlingerJeff Remlinger, a data nerd from Chicago, IL, fell in love with MLS by watching the Chicago Fire. Some would say he threw his Fire jersey in the trash a little too quickly when Nashville joined MLS. Jeff has a passion for the statistical side of sports, and when he’s not writing about soccer, he can be found watching his beloved Arsenal or Iowa State Cyclones. Jeff can be found @MusicCitySCStat on X, where he shares his statistical analysis of Nashville SC.

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