A miscommunication on defense led to the Seattle Sounders FC (0-1-0) losing a 0-1 decision to Nashville SC (1-0-0) in their opening MLS match of the 2022 season. Nashville picked up a tough three points on the road by never really letting the Sounders maintain possession in the second half.
Anibal Godoy took advantage of a mistake by Seattle’s defense after a Frei save turned into a cross for SC and then the goal in the 80th minute. It was the first goal of the match and gave SC a 1-0 lead late.
After that goal, Nashville did a great job of clogging up the passing lanes in the box to not give Seattle opportunities over the next six minutes. Freddy Montero would get a shot off in the 87th minute but it was easily corralled by keeper Joe Willis.
Seattle would get a throw in near the corner at the 88th minute in what was its last serious chance at an equalizer. But Nashville was able to clear it out to the middle of the pitch and it became nearly impossible for the Sounders to generate an effective attack for the majority of the second half. The Sounders got five minutes of stoppage time but weren’t able to get the equalizer.
But it was a yellow card on Nouhou Tolo in the 96th minute that signaled the end of the match.
Another Sounders corner kick in the 91st minute ended up in a cross that saw Willis easily pick it out of the sky. Nicolás Lodeiro took a deep shot at goal but it didn’t have enough movement on it to challenge Willis in the 93rd minute. While the Sounders kept up the pressure in stoppage time to challenge Nashville’s keeper and defense.
Out of the halftime locker break, the ball quickly ended up being at the feet of Frei as Nashville came out and applied pressure quickly. SC tried to get a corner kick in the 49th minute but it bounced off of one of its players and it turned into a goal kick. João Paulo’s kick went out to midfield but neither side was able to gain the advantage. It turned into a free kick for Nashville in the 50th minute after an aggressive foul; Seattle’s defense cleared it out rather easily.
Cristian got tangled up when Tolo fired off a perfect cross to him and he missed the header opportunity. But the Sounders got another opportunity to fire off a cross to him in the middle of the box; unfortunately his header dribbled harmlessly off to the right of the net in the 51st minute. The veteran midfielder was irate that there was no foul called on the contact.
Seattle’s next offensive possession turned up empty when a cross from Xavier Arreaga was easily cleared out by Nashville’s defenders. Hany Mukthar drew a weak foul in the 54th minute out in front of the Sounders’ net; the pass sailed wide and it turned into a Nashville corner kick. That was quickly cleared out by Nicolás Lodeiro.
In the 58th minute, Vargas went down with what appeared to be a leg injury after a collision with Alex Roldan. The trainer had to come out but he stayed in. Frei cleared out the pass after play resumed.
Seattle would get another corner kick in the 62nd minute, but the defense cleared the ball out and quickly put Seattle’s defense on its back foot with a quick counter. Frei would clear out the ball a couple of minutes later when Nashville kept up the pressure. Chu would sub in in the 65th minute for Paulo. Lodeiro had a pass booted out of bounds to give the Sounders their eighth corner kick in the 66th minute; but it was headed out by Zimmerman.
Sounders legend Freddy Montero and Kelyn Rowe subbed in for Jordan Morris and Obed Vargas in the 75th minute. That was followed by SC keeping possession of the ball and gently probing the Sounders defense with passes to see how it would react.
The Sounders first opportunity came when Tolo got the ball and took it to the corner of the box. Unfortunately he was unable to get the cross off before it was blocked. A foul was called which allowed Willis to get a free kick to clear the ball out from Nashville’s side of the pitch. That was immediately followed up by a free kick for the visitors which led to the first shot on goal of the match; Frei easily blocked it and got it out.
Nashville’s next attempt came in the seventh minute, but it missed just to the left of the net and a diving Frei. That was followed up by Seattle’s first offensive attack in about four minutes. Unfortunately, the defense was able to clear the ball out and put the rave green off their game.
A long cross was headed out by Lovits which led to the Sounders first corner kick in the ninth minute. Willis knocked the resulting header out of the box. But a scrum sent the ball out to give Seattle it’s second consecutive corner kick. That was headed out by Zimmerman; but the good news was the Sounders kept up the pressure to force their third corner kick at the beginning of the 11th minute.
It was easily cleared out to midfield by the defense. But it didn’t take long for Seattle to get the ball back into Nashville’s side of the pitch. This was a complete reversal of the first part of how the first five minutes of the pitch had gone, as Nashville had applied the offensive pressure and Seattle was tasked with keeping the ball away from the goal.
Offsides was called on Seattle in the 14th minute, the linesman had held his flag for a while, which led to an empty possession for the road team. Xavier Arrega drew a yellow card for an aggressive foul in the middle of the pitch in the 18th minute, it had followed his third foul.
In the 21st minute was when Nashville first really threatened in about 12 minutes. A pair of pretty crosses put Seattle on its heals. But the defense was well positioned and intercepted the first cross; the second one was hit too hard and sailed out by the left corner of the net. Mukhtar fired off a shot right at the net from the top of the box right at Frei and the keeper was able to handle it with relative ease.
Mukhtar got another chance to fire off a goal when a loose pass from the Sounders was intercepted and sent to the striker. He fired off another shot from well outside the box which gave Frei plenty of time to get in front of it and corral the ball in the 25th minute.
While Seattle kept the ball in Nashville’s side of the pitch for the six minutes after that shot, neither side really was able to establish consistent pressure. It definitely seemed like both teams were testing each other, probing the defenses to figure out where the weaknesses were.
Vargas fired off a beautiful cross to Cristian but it was a little out of his reach as he went up in the air for the header and the opportunity in the 33 minute came up empty. Nashville spent the next two minutes fending off pressure at the top of the box. Paulo was called for a foul a the top of the penalty area in the 35th minute and that turned into a Nashville possession that ended with a Mukthar foul. Off of that foul, Seattle generated an opportunity that ended up with SC clearing a pass out of bounds that threatened the goal.
Seattle’s fifth corner kick of the match came in the 37th minute. It was cleared out by the visitors but Yeimar Gómez took a deep shot at goal but it was wide left from the net. On the other side of the pitch, about a minute later, SC had a cross pass that just missed its intended target which left it to be corralled by Frei.
In the 41st minute, Alex sent a pass inside and the Nashville defender clearly stopped the pass with his hand but no flag went up; the Sounders attack was stuffed and the ball quickly got back to Nashville. That led to a physical series of possessions that led to a handful of fouls and turnovers. A foul by Leal in the 44th minute gave Paulo a free kick that turned into an easy save for Willis. It was hit a little to hard and sailed passed its intended target.
Neither side was able to take advantage of the minute of stoppage time as we went into the locker room tied at 0. Coach Brian Schmetzer wasn’t pleased with how his team played when he spoke with the Fox13 broadcast crew before he headed to the locker room. He believed his club needed to play cleaner in the second half to walk away with a win.
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Photo Credit: Nashville SC