Some local wag named this derby match “El Nashico”. It’s unclear if this nickname will survive – it’s actually unclear if Nashville will still have two teams after MLS comes to town – but for tonight it’s a rivalry. NPSL side Inter Nashville, coming off a 6-1 thrashing of defending PDL champion Charlotte Eagles last week in the First Round, faced off against USL side Nashville SC in their Lamar Hunt US Open Cup debut at Vanderbilt University’s Lacrosse/Soccer complex in front of 2070 fans.
Nashville SC boasted an honest-to-goodness supporters group, complete with pregame tailgate and drum-accompanied march to the stadium. Inter took a more no-frills approach, but were brimming with confidence after their first round romp. Inter’s Chuka Aruh earned Player of the Round honors from TheCup.us in his team’s first ever appearance in the tournament.
Inter came out applying high pressure and showing a willingness to attack, while Nashville SC were content to knock the ball around early on and look for openings in Inter’s defense. Eventually Inter began to lay back and absorb pressure from Nashville SC. In the 19th minute, NSC midfielder Robin Shroot found Tucker Hume with a long through ball that got past the Inter back line. Hume dribbled into the penalty area, pushed the ball to the right as goalkeeper John Coffman charged off his line, then slotted the ball home to put the USL team up 1-0.
— Nashville SC (@NashvilleSC) May 17, 2018
The remainder of the first half was played fairly even, with Nashville SC continuing the attacking momentum while Inter played a dangerous counterattacking game. The half (the whole match, really) was full of hard tackles and not a few yellow cards from both sides, but no more goals as the first half ended 1-0.
The second half started much the same way as the first had, with Inter playing the high line and NSC playing possession soccer. Just as Inter started to fall back defensively and look to counter as they had done at the start of the game, Referee Leland Grant whistled play dead and cleared the field because of lightning in the area. In all the weather delay lasted about 30 minutes.
When play resumed, Inter tried to take advantage of the rest period and once again tried to press NSC and maintain the high line, but the game quickly fell back into NSC attacking and Inter trying to counter. Both sides had their chances, and the game was never comfortably in hand for NSC unti Shroot and Hume connected in the 89th minute, this time with Hume making a beautiful spin move in the box and roofing a shot past Coffman to put the game away at 2-0.
Nashville SC will host PDL side Mississippi Brilla (who upset the USL’s Indy Eleven 1-0 at home) on Wednesday May 23rd, again at the Vanderbilt University Lacrosse/Soccer Complex in Nashville. The winner will take on a team from Major League Soccer in Round 4.