On a cold, windy night in Foxborough, Nashville SC fell to the New England Revolution by a 1-0 scoreline. The loss marked Nashville’s first defeat of the 2023 MLS season.
Here are my three thoughts on the match.
Not worried about the loss
Nashville may have suffered its first defeat, but no sleep should be lost over the performance. On the whole, a draw would have been a much fairer result.
New England found the decisive goal, but it hardly controlled the entirety of the match.
Nashville generated plenty of its own chances. The Coyotes dominated the first fifteen minutes with a number of attacking moves that, on another night, result in an early lead for the visitors.
New England wrestled away control of the middle third of the match as they found space in behind the backline and then later down the right flank.
However, that same stretch included Nashville’s best scoring opportunity of the night. Walker Zimmerman’s thunderous header in the 35th minute struck the woodwork nearly giving the Boys in Gold the lead.
On the night, Nashville finished with 27 touches in New England’s penalty area. The home side managed just 13 such touches. The game state plays a role in the disparity. On the other hand, it was the lowest total for the Revolution since a September away loss to the New York Red Bulls.
With Carles Gil absent for the Revs, Nashville’s result may not have matched supporters’ hopes and expectations. However, the performance itself should not lead to mashing the panic button.
If you give match winners enough chances…
If you give match winners enough chances, they will eventually make you pay.
One too many chances given to New England DP forward Gustavo Bou eventually sank the Boys in Gold.
Nashville cannot feel too down on itself for the goal itself. Jack Maher recovered and stuck with Bou, and it took an absolute screamer to beat Joe Willis at his near post. According to MLS statistics, Bou’s shot had just a 3.74% chance of resulting in a goal before it left his foot.
That is what match winners do. They take a sliver of an opportunity and make you pay.
The goal was not even Bou’s best opportunity on the night. In the 28th and 29th minutes, Bou nearly found the net in a pair of back-to-back opportunities.
Former Nashville defender Dave Romney captured it best while speaking to our friends at The Blazing Musket.
“He [Bou] won us the game,” Romney said. “He’s a special player. He’s someone who can be guarded the whole 90 or double-teamed and he gets free one time and he scores a goal. It’s just those kinds of players that you pay good money for and there are guys that can make a difference for the team. Without him we tied 0-0 tonight, so he’s just a special player and we’re lucky to have him.”Dave Romney to The Bent Musket
In a relatively even match, Nashville gave Bou one too many chances.
Ján Gregus made his Nashville SC debut on Saturday night.
The Slovakian midfielder entered the match in the 79th minute in place of Sean Davis. I thought Gregus played well in his debut. He completed a few line-breaking passes against New England’s compacted defense that gave Nashville advanced platform attacking opportunities.
His all-touches video is below.
As a free agent signing, Gregus was an excellent pickup for Nashville. The Boys in Gold have needed another ball-progressing midfielder to drop into the rotation.
Despite the concerns of others about how another midfielder would find playing time, there is a clear role in this squad for Gregus. Rarely has Gary Smith been able to count on the availability of all four of its other central midfielders simultaneously. Whether due to injury, suspension, or national team duty, one of the midfield quartet always seems to be missing from the matchday squad.
I am not sure that Gregus will start many matches for the Coyotes. Although, he should prove a valuable bench option for Smith, especially when the game state dictates that Nashville will hold the majority of possession.
Just prior to Nashville’s opening kick, soccer history was made in East Tennessee. One Knoxville SC took the field and became the fifth professional soccer club in Tennessee.
Until now, Knoxville remained the sole major city in the state to not field a professional club. One Knox began to play last year as a USL League Two club, a semi-professional division largely featuring college players. This year, One Knox climbed the American soccer pyramid to join USL League One, a fully professional league. It is another moment to step back and marvel at how far professional soccer has come in such a short time in Tennessee.
In 2018, Nashville SC fielded the first professional side. Memphis 901 (USL-C, 2019), Chattanooga Red Wolves (USL-1, 2019), and Chattanooga FC (NISA, 2020) quickly followed.
Five years later, Tennessee now calls home to five different clubs. It is incredible progress in such a short time.