Nashville SC might not have won the way they wanted to, but they achieved something far greater this Wednesday regarding MLS matches.
Facing Inter Miami, a team that recently acquired football legend Lionel Messi, they held them at bay to a 0-0 draw, becoming the first team to silence Messi since his mid-July arrival.
Less than two weeks ago, Nashville had suffered a heartbreaking defeat to Miami in the Major League Soccer Cup Final, losing 10-9 on penalty kicks. However, this time around, Nashville found redemption in the form of an unyielding defense… and a tactical triumph.
The Tactical Triumph
Nashville’s head coach, Gary Smith, devised a compact strategy that limited Messi’s influence.
“Messi likes to drift in those pockets and find those balls, especially behind. So we tried to limit those chances throughout the game. The tactic was to stay compact, stay disciplined and stay focused throughout 90 minutes, which is not easy to do.” Midfielder, Brian Anunga
Yeah, they have just lowered Messi’s MLS Player stats in one swat…
Nashville SC Is On to Messi: Scoring Streak Broken
Before this game, Lionel Messi had an impressive record with Miami, scoring 11 goals and providing six assists in just nine matches. Nashville, however, blocked his every attempt, preventing him from adding to his tally.
Nashville’s performance was even more impressive considering they were without key players, including Designated Players Sam Surridge and Walker Zimmerman, along with starting goalkeeper Joe Willis. Despite Miami controlling possession for much of the game, Nashville’s tactical discipline shone through. They can now face their MLS schedule with their head held high.
A Blueprint for Success
While Nashville may have left DRV PNK Stadium without a win, they handed the rest of Major League Soccer a blueprint for countering the best soccer player in the world. Messi might be a puzzle for many, but Nashville SC has shown that with determination and a solid game plan, even the greatest can be decoded and stopped.