FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — They dominated possession. They spent large chunks of the game in the attacking third. They even out-shot their opponents 17–3. But the New England Revolution never produced a breakthrough in their first-ever meeting against Nashville SC, which they tied, 0–0, Saturday night at empty Gillette Stadium.
New England Revolution, Nashville SC settle for scoreless draw
New England (5–3–7, 22 points) is now 5–7–6 all-time in their first meetings with expansion teams, as Nashville improves to 4–5–5 (17 points) in its maiden season.
“Definitely guys are upset — I’m upset because we definitely should have got three points today,” said Tajon Buchanan after the game. “We were the much better team. We fell short today.”
“We could have moved the ball a little quicker, especially in the first half. But we had our chances. It wasn’t one of our better performances, but we were still on top of the game, on the front foot, but the ball just didn’t want to go into the back of the net today.”
Goalkeeper Joe Willis kept Nashville in the game with five saves as his back line worked — with sometimes limited success — to hold off Revolution attackers Gustavo Bou, Teal Bunbury, Adam Buksa, Lee Nguyen and Buchanan.
At the opposite end, New England goalkeeper Matt Turner had a quiet night, but was on alert in the 54th minute when Tommy McNamara inadvertently redirected Daniel Lovitz’s cross from a freekick near the left side of the box toward his own net. Turner, who sprawled to his left and halted the ball from going in, conserved the Revolution’s sixth clean sheet of 2020.
“I’m not really used to that,” Turner said of Nashville dropping back and rarely getting forward. “Not really been too many games in my career where I’ve been in that type of scenario.”
But Turner remained alert when it counted, even though Nashville sat back and barely called him to action.
“I kind of knew going into the game it was going to be like that — Nashville’s a pretty hard team to break down,” he added. “We felt like they were going to come in and sit back, which they did. Just communicate, talking to [Andrew] Farrell and [Henry] Kessler constantly, and that helped me keep myself engaged.”
Aside from nearly conceding an own goal, most of the game’s attacking play occurred in Nashville’s own third. Buchanan led the game with seven shots. Bou had four.
Buchanan produced the game’s first chance in the ninth minute, a drive from outside the box that Willis tipped over the bar.
Bou’s best bid came in the 49th minute off a give-and-go with McNamara, with Willis using his outstretched left hand to deny an effort aimed for the far post.
Willis then tipped Buchanan’s header off the bar off a Nguyen corner (61st) and made a double-save on Buchanan from close-in (64th) following a feed by Cristian Penilla. Bou also blasted a freekick near the left edge of the box toward goal that Willis knocked away in the 75th minute.
While the hosts created plenty of chances, Nashville managed to absorb the pressure — something that’s become an unexpected trend this year at Gillette Stadium, where the Revolution have won only once all season.
“I think it’s a common denominator, how teams play us in Gillette,” Revolution head coach/sporting director Bruce Arena said. “They drop off and play in a low block and make it difficult, and technically we were not good enough tonight. In the second half there were some opportunities to get a goal and win the game we failed to do that.”