Two first half goals and a late game clincher were more than enough to seal Nashville SC’s first-ever playoff victory, a 3-1 win over Charleston Battery at First Tennessee Park on Saturday night. Lebo Moloto, Daniel Ríos and Derrick Jones all scored their first playoff goals in Nashville SC gold to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals next weekend.
Moloto got the scoring started for NSC in the 10’ minute when a Matt LaGrassa pass found the South African midfielder running free in the box. A shot around Charleston keeper Joe Kuzminsky by Moloto gave NSC the lead 1-0. It took a penalty by Charleston to equalize in the first half. Nashville defender Forrest Lasso barely missed a ball and inadvertently kicked a Charleston player in the box. That led to Zeiko Lewis converting a PK to knot the game at 1-1.
Nashville retook the lead immediately when it’s star forward Daniel Ríos scored with a header off a short corner from Justin Davis in the 43’ minute. That goal was Ríos first in the USL Championship Playoffs and sent NSC into the locker room up 2-1.
That scoreline stuck until the 88’ minute when Jones found the back of the net to seal the win. The goal from the midfielder signed midseason was his first as a member Nashville SC. While being dragged down in the box, Jones managed to get a shot away that snuck past Kuzminsky and inside the far post.
Here are three takeaways from the exciting win.
1) Ríos and Moloto Again
Nashville’s top two offensive threats delivered in a big way in the club’s first home playoff match. Each scored in the first half to give Nashville a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. In his fifth USL Championship season, Moloto finally found his first playoff goal. As Nashville’s offensive orchestrator for its two USL Championship seasons, it was fitting for him to find the net. For Ríos, he has scored 40 USL Championship regular season goals in two seasons, but finally got his first in the playoffs for what ended up being the match-winner.
2) Jones Finds his First
As one of three Nashville SC MLS signings playing on the USL Championship team, it has been a long 2019 season for Derrick Jones. Just two week after coming to Nashville SC in May, Jones was injured and missed almost five months recovering following ankle surgery. The capping goal of the 3-1 win was a pretty payoff for the hard word Jones has put in to make it back on the pitch to supplement Nashville’s title run. The midfielder nearly had a second in stoppage time, but his highlight reel goal will surely give Jones confidence heading deeper into the postseason.
3) Survive and Advance
The name of the game in any single elimination playoff format is to survive and advance and Nashville SC did just that for its first postseason victory. Playing a tired Charleston Battery team that itself advanced after 120 minutes on Wednesday night, Nashville took advantage of the full week of rest and looked strong throughout the 90 minutes on Saturday. The Boys in Gold had a deserved lead at halftime after outshooting Charleston 9-1 in the first 45 minutes. Now Nashville will stay at home for an Eastern Conference Semifinal against Indy Eleven.
Nashville SC will see rival Indy Eleven next Saturday at First Tennessee Park at 7 p.m. Nashville and Indy have played twice this season, drawing in Indianapolis 0-0 before Nashville took a 2-0 victory in July at Nissan Stadium. Tickets to playoff match will go on sale to the public on Monday, but current Season Ticket Members can check their inbox for a special presale starting tonight.