On a frustrating evening for Nashville SC, the Boys In Gold fell 1-0 to visiting Saint Louis FC.
Nashville's starting XI was unchanged from their 2-0 win against Loudoun last week, but captain Michael Reed returned to the bench after missing last match with injury
Cameron Lancaster once again lined up on the right of a 4-2-3-1, but interchanged positions with Lebo Moloto and Kharlton Belmar. It was a relatively quiet first half for Nashville's attack, who dominated possession but failed to create any meaningful chances. A good opportunity came in the 12th minute, when Moloto played Belmar in on goal, but a last ditch challenge killed the chance for Nashville.
Saint Louis's best chance of the night came in the 37th minute, with Matt Pickens denying Caleb Calvert a certain goal from close range. Nashville's keeper showed off his reflexes to push the header wide in a save that should be nominated for USL's Save of the Week.
The first half ended 0-0. Nashville had the majority of possession, but were outshot 7-2.
Nashville started the second half well, with a lot of possession just outside Saint Louis's box, but they never seemed to click in the final third. Rios and Lancaster were too often isolated, and aside from an occasional set piece, neither caused Saint Louis any real trouble.
Their best chance of the night came in the 81st minute. After some strong build up play, Matt LaGrassa lept to get on the end of a Kosuke Kimura cross. The midfielder headed well from 7 yards out, but 'keeper Jake Fenlsason tipped it over with a fantastic diving effort.
Three minutes later, Saint Louis got the winner. Forward Caleb Calvert drifted through the box unmarked to bury a header from a corner kick. It was a solid effort from the striker, but really poor marking from Nashville, and a disappointing way to concede.
Nashville managed a couple efforts after the opening goal, but none that really threatened to equalize, and the match ended 1-0. Nashville will hope to see their offense click next Sunday at New York Red Bulls II.
Shots: 9 - 11
SOG: 1 - 3
xG: 0.709 - 0.849
Goals: 0 - 1
Possession: 64% - 36%
Gary Smith: “When you look at the stats in the second half, 75% possession to their 25%, we should be making more of that. And therein lies the problem. Possession is worthless unless it’s actually productive. Tonight, we certainly weren’t productive enough.”
Gary Smith: “We all know the season is not won and lost in the second game, but there are some things that our group have to improve at, and quickly, to make the most of the quality players in goal-scoring areas that we have. There’s a lot of good things going on. We have shifted, I believe, from a group that were in our first year, just really determined and showed some very nice signs, to a team that’s controlling the game a lot more. But controlling the game is not enough if you can’t get sights of goal. We’ve got to find ways to be more productive, and if that’s not the 15th time that I’ve said that, then it’s probably the 100th, and it will be a lot of times this week. We have to do more... There’s too much talent in this group to be coming out of that game with one effort on target. That’s just not good enough.”
Gary Smith: “If you look at two thirds of the field for us, from our defensive area to the attacking third of the field, the vast majority of our play in the last two games has been decent. Where we’ve struggled is probably with our three newest players. All three of them are extremely talented guys. It’s not just them getting on the same page as each other, it’s them and our midfield, defenders, whoever is supplying, getting on the same page and understanding what they’re about as well. It’s not an excuse, we’ve been beat tonight, and it won’t feel any better, but there are still some very good things going on in the group. However, one of the biggest challenges that we have right now is being more creative and finding more sights of goal.”
Liam Doyle: “I think we dominated the play for the most part, but we didn’t really create too much. It was more set plays. Obviously, teams are going to look at the power we have going forward and they are going to come here and respect that and sit. It’s going to be hard to break teams down. We need to find a way to do that.”