Postmatch Press Conference | Nashville SC 2 - 1 Louisville City

NASHVILLE, TN - Nashville SC's Gary Smith, Matt Pickens and Jimmy Ockford spoke with Speedway Soccer following Nashville's 2-1 win over Louisville City. Watch our interview or read the transcript below.

GARY SMITH (Head Coach)

His overall thoughts on the match: “I needed a moment upstairs to try and take a deep breath and come down a little bit. Amazing end to the game again. It's happened a few times here, probably far more than I can remember anywhere else in my career. Incredible header obviously to not only win the game, but to grab the three points as well. For me, the overall picture of the game was always going to be about creating an environment that replicated a playoff game, and the players went about their business incredibly well. We showed a hell of a lot more, I thought, positive energy to press up the field, to disrupt their game, and to grab the goal that we did. To put ourselves in front was obviously a huge bonus that early on in the game and a wonderful strike from Taylor [Washington]. Credit to Louisville. Some of their play was very, very good, but I felt as usual, we showed the sort of belief and fortitude that has been a bit of a constant in this group and even when they equalized, which can be pretty deflating at that point, certain individuals looked a little bit fatigued, but they found another gear and the winning goal as I've said capped off what was a playoff evening. Make no mistake, this was a good side that we could run into again and we needed to show our credentials as well which I felt we did tonight.”

On the start and how Louisville controlled possession and got back: “Listen, they're a good side. You don't win the championship twice and not have an inner confidence and belief about yourself as a group. They have a very strong squad so John [Hackworth] had a number of bodies that he could call upon should they get in a tight spot, which he did. He added some more firepower to the group, but their play was very, very good. We had our moments. Don't forget Daniel [Ríos] missed a wonderful opportunity into the second period. Honestly, yes there were areas that I felt we could have shown a little bit more quality about our play, but tonight, and as we move towards the playoffs, don't forget we haven't won a playoff game yet. We've had a very, very good outing against Cincinnati, but this group needed to feel a victory in those circumstances. They've given everything that they can tonight. They've come away with all three points that puts Pittsburgh under some more pressure with two away games, but all in all, in a very tense and pressurized situation, Louisville will have been looking for a victory to take them closer towards that top four spot. And ten games unbeaten in a team, especially for a team as experienced as this one, is never ever easy to break, and we've been able to do that tonight. That's a huge amount of credit to the way the guys have affected the game.”

On Ropapa Mensah's performance and his contribution to the first goal: “Honestly, there were times I felt that they needed to put two or three players out there. He was wonderful. He looked confident; he looked relaxed; he looked like every single time he got on the ball, something could happen, and when forwards are in good form, then you feel excited as you're sitting in your seat. You've seen it probably yourself many times. It's no different sitting on the bench, and whenever he got on the ball, I felt something was going to happen, so much so that I have no doubt that their move at halftime to take their left back off was because of Ropapa [Mensah]’s performance.”

(On Derrick Jones coming back and logging meaningful minutes) “I think he's moving very, very well. I'd like to have got a little bit more time for him in Loudoun. The field there I was a tad concerned about. Tonight, you're looking at 25 minutes. Expect that output to improve as we move towards these latter games of our schedule. His performance anyway looks like he's getting back to where he was. He looked confident and comfortable on the ball. This is an extremely talented guy that we had nowhere near long enough to view before he got injured so a huge asset to come back into the group, a big lift for the players, and obviously a major foundational piece as we move towards the playoffs.”

On closing out the season strong with these last two games: “We've got to win them both. I feel we can win them both. The players all feel after tonight they can win them both, and it means that Pittsburgh has got to win both their away games. A draw somewhere won't be good enough. You ask small questions. It's no good now for them to go away to either Birmingham or Saint Louis, two very difficult places, both teams have got good home records, proud fans that'll get after them, they'll get behind them, both of them searching for a playoff spot, so these games are not going to be easy for them. Whilst they're a very good side and very, very capable, there is a big, big difference between going somewhere and needing to win and going somewhere and just getting a point, so we're confident, and I'm sure the side we put out at the weekend will replicate and reflect the fact that we intend to win both games.”

MATT PICKENS (Goalkeeper)

On his three close-range saves: “I try to react. That’s all I do. Don’t have to do too much when you don’t have to think about things. Just react and sometimes it works out your way. That’s all I’ve got to say about that.”

On going ahead early and Louisville’s response later in the match: “We knew it was going to be that way, so we wanted to take charge at the start of the game. I thought we did that real well and got the goal early, competed, pressed them, hurried them up. We knew there was going to be most of the match where you couldn’t keep up that pace and defend because they’re very good with the ball. We get tired a little bit, so there were going to be those spaces where we have to sit deep and defend for a little bit and then find our ways to attack. That’s kind of how it was. That was the way the match went. They’re a good side. They’re back-to-back champions for a reason. They have good guys on their team who know how to compete in these games. We do too on our side, so luckily we came out on top.”

On the team’s confidence heading into the final two matches of the season: “We knew that we wanted to get three points in this game. If we get three points, we’re a point behind Pittsburgh, and we put a little pressure on them. They’ll have two games on the road, we’ve got two games at home. So, if they drop points, and we continue to play the way we have been doing and pick up all three points in those games, then we knew that we have a good chance to win the title. That’s been the mindset all year, but now it’s coming into focus these last few games now.”


On what he saw on the goal he scored: “I saw a perfect ball in. My eyes were on it the whole time, and I had a good feeling that I was going to get something on it. I barely had to get anything on because it had so much pace. It felt good. Good contact.”

On what scoring three late goals at home does for the team’s confidence: “We know that we don’t give up. We give it everything we have until the final whistle and it shows. It’s happened multiple times now which is good. It’s good for the group.”

On going ahead early and Louisville’s response later in the match: “I feel like they were pressing the whole time. They were bombing forward every time. Me and Forrest [Lasso] had the ball in the back. They were flying forward. They kept it up for the full 90 which was tough for us, but we were resilient and persevered and got through it.”

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