Week 12 Recap: Getting Off on the Wrong Foot with Nashville

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By Siobhan Nolan, Contributing Writer

It was a pretty quiet night for the Union as they fell 1-0 to Nashville SC on the team’s inaugural meeting. Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis only had to make four saves to earn the team’s fifth clean sheet of the season, along with maintaining their undefeated streak at home. Meanwhile, the Union had their eight-game undefeated streak snapped.

It only took about 70 seconds for former Union striker CJ Sapong to control a cross from Randall Leal and send it past Andre Blake. Minutes later, the home team nearly got another goal, but a perfectly-timed tackle from Jack Elliott batted the danger away.

This stop inspired an energetic counterattack from the Union, seeing scoring chances from Cory Burke and Jamiro Monteiro, but Nashville’s defense was on their typical A-game and kept the Boys In Blue at bay.

As the first half marched on, the Union were able to build up some promising attacking play, but couldn’t seem to capitalize on it. It was a game “almosts”, as debutante Daniel Gazdag and Kacper Przybyłko both saw shots on goal, but not the back of the net.

A promising counterattack got going when a Kai Wagner turnover in the Union’s box saw Gazdag and Burke combine for a shot at Willis, but the Nashville goalkeeper was able to make the save.

The biggest problems for the Union were in their positioning. The Union favored combining for creative and strategic play out wide, but Nashville’s superb defense sat firmly in the center and caused a whole array of problems for the Union’s normally prolific offense.

Despite controlling possession and finding pockets of space to create chances, the Union, in a hauntingly familiar scenario, were unable to capitalize on these opportunities. All three of the Union’s main strikers (Sergio Santos was subbed on in the 55th minute) made an appearance on the field, but there was just nothing to show for it.

The Main Takeaway: In some games, the defense can assume partial blame for a poor performance. In other games, the midfield can be faulted. But the main culprit in many of the Union’s disappointing performances is the strikers. That’s not to say that Przybylko, Santos, and Burke are incapable players, but they’ve proven time and time again that there is no consistent winning combination up front. Sometimes the pairings work flawlessly, and sometimes they don’t work at all. It’s an issue that could be solved by adding depth to the striker pool, a task that should be prioritized during the Secondary Transfer Window, which opens up on July 7. (Please, Union technical staff, we don’t need another midfielder.)

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