Three thoughts as Nashville SC race past Minnesota United

Nashville SC demolished Minnesota United by a 5-0 score line. With the win, NSC advanced to the Leagues Cup semifinal where they will play host to Mexican giants C.F. Monterrey.

Here are my thoughts on the match.

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Ruthless in finishing off the Loons

Whew!!! What a performance from Nashville. The Coyotes encountered a weakened opponent following D.J. Taylor’s red card and ruthlessly tore it to pieces. 

It is the most goals in a match for Nashville since the 6-2 thriller against F.C. Cincinnati in 2021. It also marks just the fifth time that Nashville has scored five or more goals in the MLS era. They reached that mark once in the pair of USL seasons and twice in the amateur era (Thank you to Clay Trainum for keeping that history alive and accessible). 

Sure, a one-man advantage certainly played a part in the scoreline. However, loads of credit still must be given to Nashville. Not all teams in the same situation will produce a five-goal demolishing. 

After all, Nashville found itself on the other end of red cards in recent weeks. Against FC Cincinnati, NSC had two players sent off, and yet the Lions struggled to find a third goal until the dying embers. 

Conversely, the Coyotes never let the Loons catch their breath following the red card. They scored the opening goal within five minutes of Taylor’s sending-off and never took their foot off the gas.

Nashville scored once nearly every five minutes until they reached their five-goal lead. 

  • Moore (39’)
  • Bunbury (44’)
  • Muyl (50’)
  • Surridge (53’)
  • Mukhtar (59’)

It was the type of systematic dismantling of a weakened opponent that you want to see in these situations but rarely occurs in reality. Kudos to Nashville for putting Minnesota away and leaving zero doubt. 

The “Daxissance”

We need to take a minute and appreciate just how incredible Dax McCarty has been this week and frankly this whole season.  

Just days after McCarty dropped an absolutely filthy pass to set up Nashville’s game-tying goal against América, the veteran turned in another masterful performance. 

Against Minnesota United, McCarty logged a primary assist, a pair of secondary assists, and countless more progressive passes (the majority of which came prior to the red card). Perhaps most importantly, McCarty’s dropped a dime to Jacob Shaffelburg over Minnesota’s defense which directly led to D.J. Taylor’s red card. 

It is just the latest chapter of the “Daxaissance”. I can’t take credit for the phrase, that goes to my colleague Josh Young. However, it perfectly encapsulates McCarty’s 2023 season. 

Nashville’s switch to the 4-4-2 Diamond has benefitted McCarty more so than anyone else on the roster. At the base of the midfield four and without as much up-and-down defensive responsibility, McCarty can save his legs for picking out passes from deep positions.

Boy, did he ever against the Loons. Adrian Heath’s squad gave too much time and space to McCarty and he made them pay over and over again. 

The video below includes McCarty’s numerous passes that opened up the Minnesota defense.

Beyond his passing, McCarty still brings his wealth of experience that allows him to read and react quickly when danger develops. 

It was not all perfect on the night. It rarely ever is for any player. McCarty’s giveaways in the 43rd and 54th minutes led to two of Minnesota United’s best attacking opportunities on the night. You will take the occasional slip-up when he gives you so much positive ball movement throughout the match.

Overall, McCarty is playing some of his best soccer since arriving in Music City.

Charting new territory 

Nashville SC charted new territory with the quarterfinal win over Minnesota United. The Boys in Gold advanced to a semifinal for the first time in club history. 

I highlighted after the Club América match that NSC made and had been knocked out of the quarterfinals in one competition in each of its previous seasons as a professional club. The burning question entering 2023 concerned whether Nashville would make that next step forward as a club. 

They certainly answered that question Friday night. 

Nashville now stands one win away from playing in a final. It would be a monumental moment for the club as it continues to establish roots within the community. However, the Boys in Gold can’t afford to look too far ahead. 

Up next is a difficult match against C.F. Monterrey. It will take a lot of work to advance from here. Rayados have to be considered the favorite to win Leagues Cup. For the last decade, Monterrey has established itself as the best club on the continent. 

Monterrey almost always sits near the top of the Liga MX table. While they have struggled at times to capture domestic titles, they lifted the Concacaf Champions League title in 2019 and 2021. 

Up until Lionel Messi’s arrival, Monterrey spent more on players than any other team in North America. As they demonstrated against LAFC, they have the requisite talent to storm back from a deficit. 

Even if Nashville cannot slay the giants of Concacaf, another prize is on the table. The Third Place Consolation match will award a Concacaf Champions Cup berth to the winner. 

Whether they play in a final or for a chance at continental competition next Saturday, Nashville has entered entirely new territory. 

Bonus thought

Aaron nailed it. Man does it feel great having a striker who is scoring goals.

Author: Chris IveyChris is a senior writer covering Nashville SC. His writings focus on the team at large and often navigate the complexity of roster building around the myriad of MLS rules. Outside of Broadway Sports Media, Chris resides in Knoxville and is a licensed attorney. Beyond NSC, he is always willing to discuss Tennessee football and basketball, Coventry City, and USMNT. Follow Chris on Twitter

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