Nashville Soccer Club saw its seven-match unbeaten streak come to an end as it lost 1-0 to North Carolina FC at WakeMed Soccer Park.
North Carolina FC controlled the pace of play for much of the first half, holding court in the attacking half of the pitch, yet Nashville had the edge in possession. North Carolina’s best chance of the early moments came on a DJ Taylor long-range shot that goalkeeper Connor Sparrow got a finger to and knocked away.
Nashville SC had its first big chance of the match in the 17’ minute as Justin Davis made a run down the wing and laid a ball across to Daniel Ríos, who brought it down with a skillful play and put a shot on net that was parried away. A few minutes later, North Carolina had a strong header off of a corner kick that Sparrow lunged up for and poked over the crossbar.
NCFC got the first goal nearing the end of the first half on a well-run attack forward and a goal by Ben Speas. Head Coach Gary Smith made his first substitution of the match early in the 39’ minute with Alan Winn coming on for Kosuke Kimura. Ríos had another good chance late in the half, but his shot from the top corner of the box missed wide.
In the early second half, Cameron Lancaster had a good chance in the 51’ minute, but his header in front of goal sailed high and over the crossbar. Nashville kept pressing with numbers forward and had plenty of shots, but few on net.
Lancaster had another good chance on a long-range free kick, but the North Carolina keeper got to it on the near post. In the final minutes, Ríos had a free kick from distance that the NCFC keeper also saved at the other post.
Here are three takeaways from Saturday night’s match:
1) Putting on the Pressure
Nashville SC was defending for much of the first half but stepped to the front foot in the second half. The Boys in Gold had 59% of the possession in the second half and took 12 shots to North Carolina’s three. However, despite all the chances, Nashville SC couldn’t find the back of the net, getting shut out in a loss for just the third time this season.
2) Streaks End
Saturday night’s loss marked the end of a number of streaks for Nashville SC. It marked the end of Nashville’s seven-match unbeaten streak and a lengthy road unbeaten streak that dated back to April. For Cameron Lancaster, it marked the end of his five-match scoring run, having found the back of the net in every other match he has played for Nashville SC. Because Matt LaGrassa did not make an appearance in the match, his streak of 52 consecutive appearances for the club dating back to last season came to an end. Finally, the loss was also Connor Sparrow’s first in a Nashville SC shirt.
3) Wacky Night in the USL Championship
Nashville’s loss added to what was already a chaotic night near the top of the Eastern Conference standings. New York Red Bulls II, Indy Eleven and Louisville City FC all drew on the night, while Tampa Bay Rowdies needed a stoppage time goal to beat Ottawa Fury FC. Nashville SC will fall to fifth place with this loss.
Nashville SC continues its road swing next Saturday night with a trip up I-65 to take on Louisville City FC. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. CT.