Nashville SC Hoping to Keep Clean Sheet Streak Alive, Pick up Another Road Result
NASHVILLE - Back on March 24, New York Red Bulls II's Brian White headed home a goal in the 55' to equalize the match against Nashville Soccer Club at MSU Soccer Park in Montclair, NJ.
That was the last time any club has scored against Nashville SC, and the Boys in Gold will look to keep the balls out of the back of the net once more on Saturday on the road against Charleston Battery.
Nashville has held its opponents scoreless for the last 215 minutes of gameplay dating back to that goal in March, and it's helped them earn a result against NYRBII and a pair of wins against Ottawa Fury FC and Memphis 901 FC.
Although, you might not hear the players talk about the numbers that much.
"I didn't know the exact minutes, but that's pretty cool," said Defender Liam Doyle. "We do love to get clean sheets. That's our job effectively. We help out in the attack, but our main job is to keep the ball out of the net and that'll help the team."
The streak has encompassed parts of three different matches across three different venues and two different countries. It has also taken the efforts of five different starting defenders and two different starting goalkeepers.
But, maintaining that type of streak requires a stellar effort from everyone on the pitch beyond just the defenders and the goalkeepers.
"The backline has been very reliable," said Head Coach Gary Smith. "That includes Matt [Pickens] and Connor [Sparrow] of course. I do think it's a team effort. The defenders will get more scrutinized than others and put under more pressure, but it is really a team effort. I am delighted that we are making life difficult. I hope that remains the same because it makes life a lot easier at the other end of the field. We need less to win games. At some point that streak will be broken, but I think the mindset and the attitude of the players is, 'We want to be tough to beat.' We also realize there is an awful lot to be done going forward, and we have improved in those areas as well. Maintaining that balance is always a tough aspect for any team."
Having that type of full squad effort has helped Nashville earn results in each of its first two road matches this season. In 2018 road matches, the club won just four times and drew seven times. In each road match this season, Nashville SC has scored the first goal, which can be a huge factor in winning on the road.
"Going to Charleston, historically they have a very good record," Smith said. "Their field is good quality and good size. I think it gives us an opportunity to get on the ball and express ourselves, but also if we get overconfident, they are more than capable of picking us apart and exploiting us. As with every game, goals make such a big difference. If we can be the first team to get on the sheet, it affects players' mentalities, it affects the way the game unfolds, gaps open up and part of our mindset has been can we be that team. How do we make that happen without overexposing ourselves? The balance has been good at the moment and that won't change going into Charleston."
Last season, Nashville and Charleston played to a pair of hard-fought 1-1 draws. Even though Charleston has not had the run of form they likely wanted going into the 2019 USL Championship campaign, the Nashville SC backline knows it will have to be on its game once more if it wants to preserve this lengthy shutout streak.
"We know they have a good home record,' Doyle said. "They are really physical and have some nice midfield players. We are going to have to be alert to that and be on our game. Any away game in this country is tough so we need to go there with the right attitude and hopefully get the win."
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