The Chalkboard: Inter Miami 0 – 0 Nashville SC

Scoreless draws are often used by non-soccer fans to deride the sport, but not all scoreless draws are created equal. With 29 shots between the two sides, Nashville 0-0 draw in Miami didn’t want for action, and both sides will feel that they were unlucky to get a win.

Miami enjoyed a really productive first half, and throughout the match were effective in the final third.

Miami were especially effective in wide areas. Their best chances came from getting behind Nashville’s fullbacks and putting in strong service from either flank. Miami did really well to create overloads on the wings and create space for themselves.

First off, that’s a great pass from Andrés Reyes, but notice how Nicolás Figal (#5) pulls Dan Lovitz up the field and create the space for Lewis Morgan to get in behind and put the cross in. That’s also a finish that Rodolfo Pizarro scores 9/10 times.

Here, Miami didn’t overload the wing, but they catch Nashville on the break. Again, they take advantage of space behind the fullbacks, and put good service into the box. That’s another one that Pizarro buries 9/10 times.

This is really smart off-the-ball movement from Pizarro. He sees Johnston push forward to pressure Juan Agudelo, and drifts into that pocket to create an overload, Ben Sweat bombs forward and puts Nashville at a numerical disadvantage, forcing Zimmerman to drift wide, which allows Robbie Robinson to get behind the backline. It’s a very intentional and well-worked move from Nashville, and an excellent save from Joe Willis to keep Nashville level.

There are positives and negatives to Nashville’s defensive plan against Miami, but it ended up working out for the visitors. Miami found space on the wings, but weren’t able to create consistently from central areas.

Miami attempted 28 crosses. Teams don’t do that if they feel they can create from central areas. While there were some nervy moments from Nashville, overall they did well to limit Miami as much as they did.

On the other side of the ball, Nashville again struggled early, in part due to Miami’s dominance in the first 30 minutes. When they did get the ball, their passing was off. Not terribly off, but too often passes weren’t into space, forcing players to hold their runs while they waited for the ball.

You can see Lovitz’s clear frustration here that the ball from Godoy wasn’t ten yards further up the field, forcing him to wait for the ball and allowing Miami to shift over.

As an aside, Godoy was once again a pressure relief for Nashville, able to ride challenges and draw fouls. His body position is consistently excellent. There’s no Nashville player who receives the ball better.

When Nashville did start creating more, it was by going direct. They took advantage of Miami committing numbers forward and got in behind the backline. McCarty, Godoy and Lovitz were all able to pick out vertical passes that bypassed lines of pressure.

This ball here from Lovitz was excellent. The touch and body positioning from Badji didn’t quite match, but the vision from Nashville’s left back has been a consistent strength of this team.

Hany Mukhar didn’t get on the scoresheet, but he was influential, especially in the second half. Obviously, there has to be end product. However, it was one of the first times we saw him consistently get between the lines and cause problems on the half-turn.

That’s really good awareness to fill the space left by Badji, and that driving run needs to happen more often. The play breaks down when he doesn’t hit Badji early, and Badji in turn decides to recycle possession. Those positions are where Mukhtar needs to get more often, and the final ball has to be more decisive. New DP Jhonder Cádiz should help with that.

Again, this is the position Mukhtar needs to be in. It’s a signature move for Nashville, pressing and winning the ball in midfield before getting upfield quickly. Mukhtar sits between Miami’s lines and waits for the space to open up. I have no issue with the shot here. For one, he doesn’t have a ton of options, and while the effort wasn’t great, it shows more confidence than we’ve seen from him before.

Mukhtar’s best chance came just after the break, again with a forced turnover in Miami’s defensive third. Alex Muyl does a great job to win the ball and play it into space, and it’s a strong run from Mukhtar. That’s a chance he has to finish, and one that he finished several times at Brøndby, and one that he’ll regret missing.

Nashville’s last big chance was their best and most painful one. Lovitz bombs forward after a flick from Daniel Ríos-slash-deflection off of the defender, and finds himself one-v-one with Luis Robles. He tries to stay calm and place his shot, but ends up dragging it wide.  

It’s a really poor miss from Lovitz, and he clearly knew it. On one hand it’s hard to fault a left back with just two career goals for not scoring, but as a veteran player, with that kind of opportunity, it has to be better.

What was more frustrating than the miss was that Danladi was streaking into the box unmarked. A simple layoff would have left Danladi with an empty net and a certain goal. Everything looked good until the final ball, and that’s been the issue for Nashville all year.

Again, we’re talking about moments of promise from Nashville with no end product. There’s clearly a line to thread between being overly optimistic and completely pessimistic. I think the middle ground is the place to be.

No, Nashville aren’t finishing chances. That’s not good. They also just signed a DP striker, which at least says they know it’s an issue and are actively trying to address it. But yes, they are getting their attackers into better positions more consistently. Yes, they are creating chances more consistently, and their rotations and patterns of play are looking clearer each match. That’s not nothing.

There are those out there who will say I’m being overly optimistic, ignoring the issues, or even shilling out for the club. Go for it.

Finishing is clearly an issue for Nashville, and everyone knew it would be. Everyone knew Nashville needed a DP 9 and they signed one. They’ve also been making incremental improvements in the final third that, while not fixing everything, have improved their issues of chance creation.

It’s frustrating, but it’s not all doom and gloom for Nashville. Not just yet, at least.

Author: Ben Wrightis the Director of Soccer Content and a Senior MLS Contributor for Broadway Sports covering Nashville SC and the US National Team. Previously Ben was the editor and a founder of Speedway Soccer, where he has covered Nashville SC and their time in USL before journeying to Major League Soccer since 2018. Raised in Louisville, KY Ben grew up playing before a knee injury ended his competitive career. When he is not talking soccer he is probably producing music, drinking coffee or hanging out with his wife and kids.

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