The Union suffered a 1-0 loss to Nashville SC Saturday night at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. It was their first loss in 10 games across all competitions, a streak that stretched back to May 1.
Here are some observations on the game.
Conceding early again
The Union gave up a second-minute goal for the second straight game, and this one hurt a lot more than Jakob Glesnes’ fluky own goal in Chicago. Not only did C.J. Sapong score against his former team, but the Union defense made a series of errors on the play. Jamiro Monteiro and Leon Flach missed tackles, and Jack Elliott was caught at the midfield line defending Sapong after Nashville cleared a Union free kick.
After Sapong shook off Elliott, he fed Randall Leal on the right wing and continued his run forward. There was a gaping hole between Elliott and Glesnes, with Olivier Mbaizo pinched in so far that he was behind Glesnes. By the time Glesnes got to Sapong, it was too late.
Gazdag’s first start
Having come off the bench in his two appearances for the Union so far, it was the right time for Dániel Gazdag to make his first start. He was listed at the left central midfield position with Monteiro atop the diamond, but the setup was made to be fluid.
It wasn’t fluid enough. Gazdag was subbed off in the 56th minute having recorded just 21 touches, 12-of-18 passing, one chance created, and one off-target shot. He had more of an impact defensively, with four recoveries and one clearance, than offensively.
José Andrés Martínez returned to action for the Union when he came in at the same time Gazdag went out. He played like he was still at the Copa América, which may sound like a compliment but, in fact, is not. Martínez was too reckless with tackles and too talkative with referee Robert Sibiga, and was lucky that he didn’t get a second yellow card after earning a first in the 79th minute.
Flach gets pounded
Leon Flach’s first game after not making the U.S. national team’s Gold Cup squad saw him face an opposing defensive midfielder who helped the Americans win the 2017 edition: Dax McCarty.
There was no polite conversation about how Flach can keep up the growth he’s delivered this year. McCarty landed a few hard tackles on Flach, and he wasn’t the only Nashville player who brought heat. Though the box score said Flach only suffered two fouls, those were just the ones that drew whistles.
Can’t blame Blake
Andre Blake officially made two saves, but the eye test told you he had a huge game. This game would have been a blowout if not for a slew of catches, punches and other big plays.
It’s obvious how crucial he is, and it will be even more so while he’s gone with Jamaica’s national team at the Concacaf Gold Cup. Saturday’s game was the last for Blake, Cory Burke, and Alvas Powell before they leave for the Reggae Boyz’ pre-tournament training camp.
The tournament starts next weekend, and Jamaica has a strong squad that also includes Bayer Leverkusen’s Leon Bailey. Expect the team to make another deep tournament run, which means the Union trio should be gone for the rest of July.