Nashville SC rolled to an easy and expected victory against Lipscomb on Wednesday night. The Boys in Gold started quickly and never looked troubled in their 4-1 win.
Gary Smith fielded a strong lineup that was closer to the first option in our preview. Trialist Genki Miyachi partnered Bradley Bourgeois at center back, with Bolu Akinyode and Vinnie Vermeer playing at no. 6 and no. 8, respectively. Tucker Hume got the nod up top with Kharlton Belmar and Ramone Howell on either flank.
Nashville got off to a quick start. In the second minute, Belmar sent in a cross that went into the goal after a deflection. Hume was officially credited with the goal, although it looked very much like an own goal. Lebo Moloto added Nashville's second goal after Lipscomb's 'keeper spilled the ball and allowed Moloto to tuck the ball away in an empty net, giving Nashville a 2-0 lead after nine minutes.
Nashville had several more chances to increase their lead, with Akinyode hitting the bar and Belmar putting a shot narrowly wide after a well-placed cross from Howell. At times, Lipscomb could barely get on the ball, with Nashville completing 20 or more passes multiple times. Things finished even at the break.
Nashville started the second half with an unchanged lineup, but made seven changes after 61 minutes.
Smith made a slight tweak to his system, going to more of a 4-4-2 with Daniel Ríos and Cameron Lancaster up top, while Miyachi pushed up into midfield to partner Michael Reed. Immediately after the substitutions, however, Lipscomb got on the board after Nashville failed to clear a set piece and let the ball bounce in the box. It was a sloppy goal to concede, but definitely impacted by the mass substitution, and was a blip rather than a systematic issue.
15 minutes later, Nashville was on the board again. Lipscomb 'keeper Luke Wilson had to use his hands to parry a lobbed back pass over his goal, giving up a rarely seen indirect free kick inside the penalty box. Reed rolled the ball to Lancaster, who buried it emphatically, giving Nashville a 3-1 lead after 74 minutes.
Ríos added a fourth in the 84th minute, as Wilson couldn't clear a cross from Matt LaGrassa, allowing the striker to tap home the rebound.
All said, it was a comfortable performance from Nashville, who outshot Lipscomb 19-3 and never looked troubled. It was encouraging to see Ríos and Lancaster get time up front together. "Looking at [Lancaster and Ríos], they score when they come on, bodes well," said Gary Smith in the club's release. I’d like to see a lot more of them together, but preseason has been that way. They've both had their little issues. All and all, a really good night all around."
Man of the Match: Genki Miyachi
The Japanese trialist has seen plenty of minutes recently, playing 45 minutes against Birmingham, 7 minutes against New York, and the full 90 against Lipscomb. He's looked sharp each time, but on Wednesday he was the standout. Starting at left center back, he looked incredibly comfortable on the ball, linking well with Justin Davis and Ramone Howell on the left. He passed with purpose and found space well, spraying balls out of the back with either foot. His touch was clean, and he took really good angles when making a tackle. After the mass substitution, he slotted into a holding midfield role seamlessly, covering ground well and dictating the flow of the game.
It's not often that a player on trial with a club is such a standout performer, but Miyachi more than held his own. It's interesting to see how many minutes he's played recently - 142 minutes to Malcolm Stewart's 29. Nashville doesn't exactly have a lot of international roster spots to spare (they may already be using all seven of theirs), but Miyachi seems to have done enough to earn a contract from an outside perspective. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him sign a contract before the season starts. Watch this space.
Up next, Nashville travel to Evansville, IN to take on USL rival Indy Eleven in their final preseason match at 2pm central time. They then take on Loudon United in their USL regular season opener on Saturday, March 9 at First Tennessee Park.