Updated: May 28, 2019
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - Nashville SC left Indianapolis with a point after a hard fought 90 minute battle against Indy Eleven. The match ended 0-0, with neither side able to create any real chances.
Head coach Gary Smith made seven changes to the side that beat Birmingham midweek. Derrick Jones was given his first league start in a Nashville shirt, and Ropapa Mensah started his first match of the season as well. Striker Daniel Ríos, tied for second in the USL scoring chart, dropped to the bench for the first time this season.
The switch to the back three worked defensively, limiting Indy's chances going forward and clogging up the middle of the field. Nashville had a few good looks in the first half, including a close range shot from Tucker Hume that Evan Newton did well to save. Despite outshooting Indy 5-4, Nashville went into the half tied at 0-0.
The second half was largely played in midfield, with both teams struggling to break into the final third and create chances on goal. Gary Smith was aggressive in his substitutions, replacing Hume and Mensah with Kharlton Belmar and Rios. However, it wasn't enough for Nashville to find a winner, and the match ended in a hard fought 0-0 stalemate.
The result sees Nashville stay in 2nd place, two points in front of New York Red Bulls II. Nashville take on Charleston Battery in the Open Cup midweek before going on a bye the following weekend.
GARY SMITH (Head Coach)
Opening Statement: “Delighted. I thought the team conducted themselves in a wonderful fashion. This is a very, very difficult place to come and play. I don't think the surface or the environment lends itself to great soccer. They’re a very good side, and I would hazard to guess that their form here is going to be pretty good all year. We did a terrific job in the first half of being a decent enough threat and had one excellent chance with Tucker [Hume] and two really good set piece opportunities that we were unable to convert. All in all, I think that the overall attitude of the players, the rotation of guys that came in and just pick up the bat straight away and slot in, it was seamless. The guys performed to a wonderful level.”
On if playing on another fast surface this week and practicing on turf made it easier to play on turf today: “Not at all. I don’t think it does at all. I think you learn to be a turf team. There’s awkward, unnatural bounces, there’s seams on the pitch that make it move unnaturally. You’ve got a field that’s 69 yards wide, so it’s very narrow and very long, so completely different to the field we played on Wednesday night or most other fields. I think you get used to that. If you play here regularly, you try and find a way to get the most out of it, and I think the way that [Indy] play and their shape does the very best with this field. They’ve got some very good players that I think have adapted to it, but to come in on a one-off and to perform as professionally as we have, I’m delighted with it.”
On the combination of Tucker Hume and Ropapa Mensah as forwards: “Really pleased. I wanted to go with that shape that I think has served us quite well on a couple of occasions. It seemed like it would fit nicely against this group. In the first half, I thought there were a couple of really nice moments with Ropapa rolling the defender on a couple of occasions, Tucker got himself in a couple of good spots. Lebo [Moloto] as well, he had a little bit more of a free role tonight. I said to him to just try and find those awkward pockets that defenders are going to find difficult to deal with, and I think that suits him really nicely. He got on the ball well, he controlled the tempo of the game for nice portions, and all in all that front three I thought were quite a nice combination.”
On Derrick Jones getting his first 90 minutes in USL Championship play: “He’s settled in brilliantly. He’s a great lad, I think the players have welcomed him well. There will still be some little issues with his relocation and getting himself in the city and adjusted to where he is, but as far as the team goes, he’s been magnificent. Very professional, he’s got all of the attributes that we’d seen when we were looking at him. We’re talking about a trade for MLS. It’s not just the physical presence that you see. He’s got great poise, he’s got wonderful techniques, glides across the ground, and I think as far as settling in, I couldn’t have asked for any more. He’s been wonderful. What I will say is that, like a number of guys in the group, I think there’s a bit more to come out of him as well. I think he’s just finding his feet and even at this point, we’re seeing a very, very good prospect."
On carrying momentum into the Open Cup match at the end of a long stretch of matches: “I think there definitely is a little bit of an accumulative effect. Everyone feels the fatigue and the tightness of travel and getting back home in the early hours of the morning. All in all, the players have looked after themselves well. It’s not an easy task getting yourself up for each game, but I’d like to think the rotation of a couple of bodies has kept certain areas of the team fresh. We certainly have the opportunity to reevaluate for Wednesday back at home. We’ll be in Nashville but not at First Tennessee Park, but I feel that we’ve played them before, and we understand it will be a very tough game. Charleston will be wanting to see themselves in the next round, likewise us. It’s been our biggest defeat of the year in Charleston, so my hope is that we can get ourselves on the right side of the result and go into the weekend break in a good frame of mind.”
TAYLOR WASHINGTON (Defender)
His overall thoughts on the match: “I thought we battled extremely well. There’s a reason why these guys are unbeaten at home. A great defensive showing from us, I think some of the only shots they had on target were from long range. So proud of the boys, especially after so many games we’ve had back-to-back. Yeah, very good result here.”
On if he felt comfortable getting back into the starting lineup today: “Always, I always feel comfortable, especially at a left wing back role. I think that’s one of my best roles for the team and to help the team as best as I can. We train hard and we train really well every day to make sure that we’re always ready whenever our name is called. My name is called today, I just did my part.”
On how he stays fresh while not in the lineup: “I think it’s easy. As a pro, nothing is guaranteed, nothing is certain. Each and every day you just have to go out and give your best. When that name is called upon, you do your best. Especially with these guys and the depth that we have and the competition at every role keeps everyone on their toes. But most importantly, as long as we’re getting the results, that’s all that matters.”
On adjusting to the turf with practice on turf: “Of course. I remember it last year being a lot tougher. Today it wasn’t as sticky, but it’s definitely one of those places in the league where you really do have to get acclimated to it. Today I think the boys did a good job. It’s just one of those fields, very different from Birmingham.”
On defending set pieces in the match: “Always. We never want to give up any goals, especially set piece goals. We always make sure we’re airtight on our positioning, on who has who, marking, everything like that. We work on that quite a bit, and we’re happy that they didn’t get it.”
On keeping momentum going for Charleston match in Open Cup: “I think it’s just to make sure we keep getting the job done. Whoever is out there, we have to make sure we get a result because this is do-or-die. It’s not a league game, we’re not playing Charleston in the USL. It’s the U.S. Open Cup. So, we have to battle and then we get a few days off and hopefully that will be with a win.”
TUCKER HUME (Forward)
On getting a result on the road: “Definitely a tough place to come play. The surface is difficult, and they’re also a very good team and very well-orchestrated defensively. To come in here and get a good point on the road, especially against a good team like this, is a good result.”
On what he saw on his scoring chance in the first half: “We had the ball in their half a little bit, which was nice. I pulled off of the centerback and Lebo [Moloto] curled a nice ball in. Unfortunately, the goalie made a nice save on it. I wish I could have done better.”
On if he felt comfortable back in a starting role: “I’ve been out of the team for a few games and stuff, but that’s just kind of what we have going here. A lot of guys can step in at any moment and play. Having depth like that is nice, and it’s going to be important in these hot summer months, especially with the Open Cup games going as well.”
On if practicing on the turf helped with adjusting to the surface in the match: “That’s the thing with this league, there’s a lot of different surfaces and widths and things like that. To come in here the day before and kind of get a feel for it was nice. We knew what we were coming into.”
On keeping momentum going into Open Cup match with Charleston: “We want to keep an unbeaten streak going, as well as just keep playing well and getting positive results and stuff going into the Cup and then an off weekend. Just to keep building that momentum is going to be good for us going forward.”