By Ben Wright (@benwright), editor.
PORTLAND, OR - Nashville SC gave a good account of themselves, but once again left empty handed, falling to the Portland Timbers by a scoreline of one-to-nothing. Diego Valeri's 12th minute volley opened the scoring, and would prove to be the winner, as Nashville were not able to find the finishing touch.
Head coach Gary Smith named an unchanged lineup from the side that fell 2-1 to Atlanta United last week, making only one change to the bench, with Jimmy Medranda returning from injury.
Nashville opened the match brightly, pressing high and putting Portland's center backs in uncomfortable situations. As the match went on, though, the press faded into a mid-block, with Nashville seeming comfortable to cede possession to the home side.
Portland's goal came out of nothing, when club legend Diego Valeri pulled the ball out of the air and blasted past Joe Willis on the volley.
The moment of quality would prove the be both rare and decisive, as Nashville created swathes of chances, but couldn't find the finishing touch. Aníbal Godoy saw a low drive tipped past the post, and Walker Zimmerman put a pair of headers narrowly wide, but ultimately Nashville were left empty handed.
They've played two matches in Major League Soccer. They've been the better side in both those matches. And they've been unable to match their opponent's quality in the final third in both. It's still very, very early, but at some point chances need to be finished.
Nashville are on the road again next week, traveling to take on Toronto FC next Saturday at 3:00 PM central.
GARY SMITH (Head Coach)
THOUGHTS ON THE MATCH: “We’re very disappointed of course. I thought after a difficult 10 minutes... in fact, we started off very very brightly, and the goal I think was almost on the stroke of 10 minutes and it was a real kick in the teeth at that point, avoidable I felt from our point of view. The response was fantastic. The majority of the game we looked in control, created some very nice openings, limited them to very little again and somehow, someway, they’ve been able to keep their goal intact and come away with the points, which is a big disappointment for us. I felt with all the efforts that we showed out there today we deserved something out of the game and unfortunately, we’re going to have to dig deep and push on. There’s a lot of good things going on, unfortunately, no points to show for.”
ON OUTSHOOTING PORTLAND 14-3: “I have no idea what their mindset and tactics were once they went one-nil up. I mean they’re the home side, I would’ve imagined that internally they’d had felt that they could have pushed on and won the game. However, some of our play, possession, ability to keep them under pressure, to keep asking questions and to put ourselves into some good areas was very good and maybe that had an impact on the way that they played. From our standpoint, and that’s really the only way that I can look at it, I’m absolutely delighted with the efforts of the players, the attitude of the players to come to such a difficult environment and to dictate a large portion of the game is I think a testament to the way that this team’s growing. The disappointment and frustration will always come out of not being able to add points to the board. And we’re now two weeks in, we conceded three efforts on our goal last week and I think only one effort today on target. That stat alone, if it continues surely has to reap dividends for our group. The area that I’ve been most concerned about at this point is of course in front of the opposing goal. We’ve created enough opportunities and sights of goal to come away with something for our endeavors. And unfortunately, we haven’t and that’s a little bit of an issue for us.”
ON HOW LONG BEFORE NASHVILLE STARTS SCORING: “Well, I hope so, of course. What I would say is, any coach or any team would be disappointed if they’re not creating chances. The creation obviously leads to those moments that can make a difference in a game. We are creating chances, we are getting in good areas, we are mounting good pressure and we’re asking some serious questions of some real experienced teams here. Portland are a very, very good side. In our first year, in our second game, I think we can all feel very good about ourselves in terms of the way that we’ve played and conducted ourselves on this occasion. It won’t make me feel any better when I wake up in the morning and know we haven’t got any points out of it.”
ON PLAYING AFTER THE NASHVILLE TORNADO: “The guys have dealt with some of the difficulties back in Nashville extremely well. We had two or three players that were affected by the tornado. What we all know is that there are plenty of families that have been affected and are in a far more difficult position than any of us are and you know, all of our best wishes and feelings go out to those people who’ve lost family members and even if they haven’t, maybe their home. So I think the guys have focused well but in terms of the damage that’s been done to some of the communities, I’m sure there’s still plenty of work to get them back on track. We’ll do our utmost to support that as well.”
ON HOW THE CLUB HAS HELPED THE COMMUNITY: “Well we have players down in that area that were affected and there have been numerous things that the club has tried to do to support…even clearing debris, even supporting some of the families that need some help and offering some sort of guidance and you know just a connection sometimes with a community to point people in the right direction. But some of the guys have obviously left early or in mid-part of the week and we’ll go back and see what we can to try and support the effort when we get there.”
DAX McCARTY (Midfielder)
HIS THOUGHTS ON THE MATCH: “Incredibly frustrating, obviously, to come away with nothing. Again it’s a little bit like deja vu, kind of like last week. It feels like right now teams are… we’re not giving teams many chances and they’re punishing us in the worst possible way by conceding world-class goals left and right. Emerson Hyndman scored one, full-volley top-corner last week, Diego Valeri this week and I don’t remember another game where Joe Willis having too much to do and yet another week where we control most of the play from 18 to 18 and we just can’t find the equalizer. [We were] not sharp enough in the attacking third to get it done so plenty of work to do, plenty of positives that come out of the game of course, but we’re sitting here after two games on zero points feeling like we deserved a lot more.”
ON NASHVILLE SETTLING DOWN AFTER PORTLAND'S GOAL: “We’re really organized and even before the first goal we weren’t too bothered. We did not feel too threatened. We had a couple of sloppy giveaways in the midfield and that’s kind of their bread and butter, that’s what they want. They want you to turn the ball over so they can get their runners out, [Diego] Valeri and [Sebastian] Blanco and [Felipe] Mora and Chara and they want to be able to hit you in transition and they did but they weren’t dangerous. Again, I don’t remember Joe Willis having too much to do on the night and then, of course, the goal comes out of nothing, a couple of crosses, maybe a second ball that gets re-directed in the box, we don’t step our lines up fast enough and I mean what can you say, Diego Valeri does what Diego Valeri does, it’s just an incredible finish. He’s one of the best our league has ever seen and again, I don’t remember him being involved in the game other than that one play. So it doesn’t feel any better, me talking about how well we did to neutralize their attackers and how I felt like in one of the hardest places to play we pretty much had control of the game, created enough chances to enough equalize and get out of here with a point and you would say probably more. But, we’re scratching our head trying to figure out how we haven’t gotten anything out of these two games. No one’s going to feel sorry for us, we’re not going to feel sorry for ourselves. Going to get back to training and continue to work on the things that will make us a better team and if we can sharpen up in both boxes, we can be better in the 18-yard box to keep a shutout and also take advantage of some of the chances we’re creating, we’re going to be fine. Just getting that first win under our belt is always the most difficult one to get.”
ON GETTING TO FINALLY PLAY AFTER THE EVENTS IN NASHVILLE: “It’s emotional for sure. We wanted to win this game not only because it’s important to start our season off on the right foot and to get that first win under our belt but we’re playing for a lot more than just ourselves and just our club. We’re playing for a whole city that’s reeling right now and going through a really difficult time with the tornado and the families that lost loved ones and even the communities that lost homes. This is a really tight-knit city that has embraced our team. It’s a city that’s embraced me and my family and our team is going to do the same. We’re going to continue to embrace our community and make sure they know that we’re going to continue to fight until we have success in this league and hopefully that starts next week at Toronto.”
ON HOW HE EXPERIENCED THE TORNADO: “I was at home, I was a little south of the city so it was close, it was a few miles away but it was never I think within enough distance to really be concerning to my wife and my baby. I woke up in the middle of the night, I should’ve checked my phone, I didn’t really know what was going on until the next morning. We have a group chat where a couple of guys obviously were very affected by it and I wish I would've been awake for that and been able to offer to any guys that needed it but our team took amazing care of it, guys are there for each other. In some cases, we’ve only known each other for five to six weeks and guys are already going to pick up guys at two o’clock in the morning to make sure they’re safe...that’s what you need to have in a new group. You need to have that camaraderie, you need to have that togetherness. Obviously it was a scary time and it’s just going to bring us closer as a community, as a city and also as a team.”
DANIEL RÍOS (Forward)
HIS THOUGHTS ON THE MATCH: “I think we controlled most part of the game but obviously we need to complete our opportunities. We need to score goals and we have to keep playing like this but with more intensity.”
ON PLAYING AFTER THE TORNADO: “It’s not easy. I have a lot of things in my mind right now but soccer is my life, it’s what I love. Even with that tornado I always have something on my mind, I’m trying to be focused like last week and today… I just try to deal with it and stay the most focused I can.”
ON HOW HIS TEAMMATES SUPPORTED HIM AFTER THE TORNADO: “It was overwhelming. I was not surprised, but thankful with all my teammates that night. It was late like three in the morning, a lot of them texted and called me. The next morning when everyone knew about it, I had like 15 offers to stay in their apartment or home… great teammates.”
ON HIS FRUSTRATIONS AGAINST PORTLAND'S DEFENSE: “Well with my situation coming from the bench, I was going to try to change the progress of the game, bring more intensity, of course, score goals or opportunities so that’s how I felt when I went inside. We tried for the last 15-20 minutes. We were close but close is not enough, we need to complete our chances.”
Cover photo and quotes courtesy USA Today.