By Jonathan Slape (@JSlapeSSP), staff writer.
BRADENTON, FL - Nashville SC played their first match of 2020 on Thursday, facing off against Swedish top-tier side IF Elfsborg in a 0-0 draw. It was a bit of an unorthodox match, played in three 30 minute periods rather than the traditional 45 minute halves.
Head coach Gary Smith put out a completely new lineup in each period. The second period saw one trialist make the starting eleven, while a total of seven trialists made the line up in the third period. Jimmy Medranda, Daniel Ríos and David Accam all sat out with minor injuries, and Smith confirmed after the match that they would not have been available for selection for a competitive match either.
While the game was not available to watch, head coach Gary Smith, midfielder Dax McCarty and defender Eric Miller spoke to the media following the match.
Both McCarty and Miller both said the match was a chance for the team to start to build relationships on the pitch. They have spent two weeks being put through their paces and today was a chance for them to begin to put that hard work in to practice. Miller said they have worked on their defensive shape through the first two weeks and they saw success today in limiting Elsfborg to very few opportunities.
While the defensive side of the game seemed to go to plan, Nashville was unable to convert any of their chances. McCarty said they began to see flashes of the attacking work paying off, but a lot of times the attacking piece can be the last to click.
Smith said that Elfsborg could not have been a more ideal opponent. They provided a competitive game for Nashville and he is comfortable and confident with how the team is progressing. He added that not all the pieces are together at the moment, but they just have to make sure they are working together efficiently. When asked about the forwards performed, he mentioning seeing positive signs from both Danladi (who played centrally) and Badji (who played wide) but also talked about how exciting Randall Leal had been the few short days he was in camp. He also praised Hany Muhktar for some of his work during the game.
Nashville will remain in Florida for the next few weeks and face the Chicago Fire on 2/6/2020.
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