Coming off a huge upset of Indy Eleven in the Second Round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, PDL’s Mississippi Brilla rolled into Nashville hoping to pick off another USL team. However, Nashville SC have yet to lose at home this year, and were looking to maintain the Cup momentum they earned last week when they defeated crosstown rivals Inter Nashville.
In the end, some order was restored to the universe as the professionals beat the amateurs, but just barely. Nashville held on to defeat a very dangerous Brilla side 3-1 in front of a crowd of 1,047 at the Vanderbilt University Soccer Complex.
Mississippi came here with a terrific win under their belt, and they looked very confident,” said Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith. “These games are extremely difficult. You’re favorites, I said it last week, a bit of a banana skin. Our attitude was good, we started off well, couldn’t have asked for much more in the first half other than to really have finished the game off.”
Complete midfield dominance by Nashville combined with defensive miscues by Brilla to offer up plenty of chances in the first half. Nashville’s first goal came in the 20th minute when Brandon Allen scored off an assist by Tucker Hume. Robin Shroot stole the ball just outside the penalty area and played the ball to Hume, who faked a shot and laid the ball off to Allen, who beat Jordan Bell with a left-footed shot just inside the post.
The Shroot/Hume combination has continued to bring success to NSC, with the former getting two assists and the latter getting both goals against Inter Nashville in the Second Round.
Brandon Allen was playing in his first game for Nashville SC, having signed just the day before from Bethlehem Steel, also of the USL.
Allen nearly got a second goal in the 24th minute after a hard foul in the 18-yard box led to a Nashville penalty kick. Allen made a decent effort on the PK, but Brilla’s Bell made a quality diving save to his right, denying Allen.
Just five minutes later another foul led to Nashville defender London Woodberry scoring his first goal of the season, a curling a free kick around the wall from 24 yards out, putting the ball just inside the right post to give the home team a 2-0 lead going into the half.
Brilla failed to register even one shot in the first half, and it seemed like the game was all but over – but after the halftime, the game turned upside down.
The PDL team from Mississippi came out and took over. They controlled possession, pressed hard, and within fifteen minutes had pulled back a goal and looked like they might be on the verge of another upset. Nashville’s CJ Cochran made several desperate saves and it looked like his team might weather the storm until Christian Kirchoff’s cross from the right wing found the head of Napo Matsoso and with 30 minutes remaining the game was 2-1.
Nashville were content to continue absorbing Brilla’s pressure, and it almost didn’t work out for them. Mississippi came agonizingly close on several occasions, and until Robin Shroot scored his first goal of the season in the 91st minute off the counterattack, overtime seemed like it might be in the cards. Nashville SC goes on to the Fourth Round, but Mississippi Brilla can hold their heads high, having had a great run.
The draw for the Fourth Round will be held May 24 for June 6 matchups that will feature the introduction of MLS teams to Cup competition.