Nashville newest professional soccer team, Nashville FC, headed down to Murfreesboro for a key conference showdown with Rocket City United on Saturday night at Richard Siegel Soccer Park. In a tough, hard fought match, Nashville FC, extended its unbeaten streak to five games (3-0-2) to start the season. The game ended in a 1-1 tie.
After Rocket City got on the board late in the first half off a goal by Ryo Suzuki to take a 1-0 advantage into the break, the second half had a little bit of everything. Both teams came out with the physical play and the referee was very busy as both teams combined for six yellow and three red cards. Nashville FC turned on the pressure during the last 45 minutes of the game by peppering Rocket City goalkeeper Chris Baker with several great shots.
The tying goal came in the 74th minute when Elliot Goodwin tapped in a shot past Baker inside the box to put Nashville FC on the board.
“We were pushing it during the second half, because the coaches gave us a few words during halftime,” Goodwin said after the match. “We got a lot of opportunities in the second half. I just got behind him, and put it toward the goal. Next thing I know people crowded around me, and I just turned and celebrated. It was a great feeling in front of all of those people.”
The seating inside the stadium at the soccer park holds 1,500 people but over 1,800 fans showed up for the match with many of them standing up and cheering Nashville FC to the tie. Nashville FC has had huge crowds in two home games this season. The first home match was at Vanderbilt last week, and that is where the club will play the rest of its home matches this season. Both the players and coaches agree the huge crowd gave them a much needed boost in the second half.
“It was a superb turnout for us, and it pushed us a lot in the second half toward the end,” Goodwin said. “It was unfortunate not to get the second goal. Without them we probably would not have scored.”
During the last few minutes of the match, Nashville FC had several chances to break the tie, including a penalty shot during stoppage time after a disallowed goal when the Rocket City defender touched the ball as it was going over the goal line. The defender was red carded and sent to the bench, and Nashville FC’s Alan O’ Connor had a chance to win it. However, the PK went over the crossbar, and the score stayed tied for the rest of the match.
“I am really proud on how the guys flipped the switch at halftime,” Nashville FC head coach Bryan Johnson said after the match. “We are kind of a slow starter and I have not figured it out yet. We do not have any veteran players, because we are a first year team, but that is no excuse. We are not going to make any excuses. We got to figure out a way this last half of the season to start games better. Having said that coming out of the five games of the season with three on the road and getting three wins and two ties, and we will take that and hopefully it will get us in the playoffs. Disappointed that we missed one to win it, and that is frustrating. We had several chances to finish the game there, and we are not going to blame the referees, or some of the tactics by our opponent. We are going to take it on our shoulders to earn the point, but we are disappointed we let two slip away.”
Nashville FC travels to New Orleans on June 7 to face the New Orleans Jesters with the kickoff set for 7 p.m. The next home match at Vanderbilt will be June 13 against Chattanooga FC also at 7 p.m.