Nashville SC Loses in Extra Time to Columbus Crew SC in Audi MLS Cup Playoffs
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Seventh-seed Nashville SC lost 2-0 to third-seed Columbus Crew SC in extra time on Sunday night at MAPFRE Stadium. Nashville kept the game scoreless for 100 minutes, but Crew SC found the breakthrough through Pedro Santos.
The Boys in Acoustic Blue beat Atlanta United FC's record for keeping a clean sheet in the franchise's first 254 minutes of Audi MLS Cup Playoff action, extending the record to 308 minutes.
In its first year in Major League Soccer, Nashville defied expectations and fielded the third-best defense in the league in goals allowed, which led center back Walker Zimmerman to win MLS Defender of the Year.
Nashville is the first expansion side to make the Conference Semifinals since Chicago Fire FC in 1998.
Big Presence Between the Posts: Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis, who led the league with nine clean sheets in the regular season and added two more in the playoffs, excelled in the game and throughout 2020. Willis made three saves on the night and batted away a handful of crosses. His most important save happened in the 79th minute when Gyasi Zardes tried to redirect a cross in at the near post, but the goalkeeper reacted in time to keep it out.
Staying Solid at the Back: The Nashville backline held firm for most of the match. Walker Zimmerman made seven ball recoveries, seven clearances, one block, and one interception, and he dribbled upfield with the ball on multiple occasions. In the 74th minute, he carried the ball up, laid it off for winger Randall Leal to cross, and ran into the box for a header which Columbus goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell saved. Center back Dave Romney made seven clearances, six ball recoveries and two blocks. Left-back Dan Lovitz played a key role on both ends, contributing a team-high four key passes with 10 recoveries, five clearances and three tackles. Right-back Alistair Johnston was also active: he had seven ball recoveries, three interceptions, two tackles, two clearances and a block.
Midfield Might: Central midfielders Dax McCarty and Tah Brian Anunga worked hard to keep the game under control. McCarty made one key pass, seven ball recoveries and three tackles. Anunga played 73 minutes and made 10 recoveries, three dribbles and one key pass. That work in the midfield helped Nashville earn the edge in shots 17-16 and remain even with Columbus in shots on target 4-4. They also helped keep Columbus' attack at bay, as five of Columbus' 16 shots were blocked.
CLB - Pedro Santos (Gyasi Zardes, Lucas ZelarayÃ¡n) 99th minute: Attacking midfielder Lucas ZelarayÃ¡n receives the ball on the left wing and passes with the outside of his foot down the line to striker Gyasi Zardes. Zardes plays a low cross and Pedro Santos gets to it first and finishes.
CLB - Gyasi Zardes (Luis DÃaz, Lucas ZelarayÃ¡n) 103rd minute: Midfielder Luis DÃaz gets the ball on the right side and plays a through ball to Zardes, who slips in behind the defense and finishes into the bottom right corner of the net.
Nashville SC set a new MLS record by not allowing a goal in 308 minutes in the 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. Atlanta had the former record at 254 minutes.
Nashville SC finished the season 6W-2L-2D in 10 games since October 14. In that span, Nashville scored 16 goals and allowed eight.
Nashville SC ranked 8th in MLS for goals per game during that stretch with 10 of the 16 goals coming from the run of play, with six scored off of set pieces.
During Nashville's last 10 games, which is the first time the club had all three Designated Players available for selection this season, Hany Mukhtar recorded four goals and one assist, Randall Leal scored three goals and logged three assists and Jhonder CÃ¡diz scored two goals.
Columbus and Nashville had the second- and third-best defenses in the MLS regular season based on goals allowed. Columbus conceded 21 goals and Nashville 22.
Nashville and Columbus tied for the league-lead with nine clean sheets in the MLS regular season. NSC goalkeeper Joe Willis kept the most shutouts of any goalkeeper with nine, while Room kept seven.
Nashville had a nine-game unbeaten run at Nissan Stadium stretching from Aug. 30th to Oct. 31, highlighted by a 4-2 win over Atlanta United and a 3-0 win over FC Dallas.
Striker Daniel RÃos and midfielder Hany Mukhtar ended the season tied for the team lead with five goals in the regular season and playoffs. Midfielder Randall Leal led the team in assists with four.
Nashville SC (2W-1L-0D) vs. Columbus Crew SC (2W-0L-0D)
Nov. 29, 2020 - MAPFRE Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
CLB: Santos (Zardes, ZelarayÃ¡n), 99'; Zardes (DÃaz, ZelarayÃ¡n), 103'
NSH: Johnston (caution), 42'; Washington (caution), 111'
NSH: Joe Willis; Daniel Lovitz, Dave Romney, Walker Zimmerman, Alistair Johnston (Eric Miller, 105'); Dax McCarty, Tah Brian Anunga (Derrick Jones, 73'), Alex Muyl (Handwalla Bwana, 105'), Hany Mukhtar, Randall Leal (Taylor Washington, 90'); Jhonder CÃ¡diz (Daniel RÃos, 90')
Unused Substitutes: Elliot Panicco, Jalil Anibaba, Brayan Beckeles, Matt LaGrassa, Abu Danladi
TOTAL SHOTS: 17 (Zimmerman, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Zimmerman, 2); FOULS: 16 (Zimmerman, 4); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 6; SAVES: 3; POSSESSION: 46.7%
CLB: Andrew Tarbell; Milton Valenzuela, Josh Williams, Jonathan Mensah, Harrison Afful; Darlington Nagbe, Artur, Luis DÃaz (Emmanuel Boateng, 109'), Lucas ZelarayÃ¡n (Chris Cadden, 116'), Pedro Santos; Gyasi Zardes (KrisztiÃ¡n Németh, 113')
Unused Substitutes: Matt Lampson, Aboubacar Keita, Héctor Jiménez, Aidan Morris, Fanendo Adi
TOTAL SHOTS: 16; SHOTS ON GOAL: 4; FOULS: 14; OFFSIDES: 2; CORNER KICKS: 11; SAVES: 4; POSSESSION: 53.3%
Referee: Armando Villarreal
Assistant Referees: Andrew Bigelow, Cory Richardson
Fourth Official: Nima Saghafi
VAR: Jon Freemon
Weather: Clear, 46 degrees.
Statistics are unofficial.
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