Columbus, Ohio — Nashville SC won’t be going to the MLS Eastern Conference Final match, but they left their mark in the league during their first season. This was an unusual season for Nashville. Of course, COVID-19 threw everyone — and all the plans for a regular season — off the rails. However, Nashville had to do some shuffling.
Nashville was the team that went from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference to help even out numbers. The move was made right before the start of the MLS is Back Tournament. Nashville did not get to participate in the tournament, due to a number of positive COVID-19 tests.
However, when the regular season got underway after the Florida tournament, the Nashville SC players put their heads down and got to work. Head coach Gary Smith helped lead the team to a seventh-place finish in the Eastern Conference. In the playoffs, it was a battle of expansion clubs, as Nashville took on Inter Miami CF, trouncing them in a spectacular fashion.
Then, there was the tall mountain of Toronto FC — but mighty Nashville hung on for a victory.
Another tall task stood in front of Nashville, this time over in Ohio. The Columbus Crew SC managed to avoid accumulating more positive COVID-19 tests and the game was on. However, the Crew were missing important players, like starting goalkeeper Eloy Room.
In a year that no one could have predicted, you never gave up on us from start to finish.
— Nashville SC (@NashvilleSC) November 30, 2020
Crew dominate Nashville in extra time
Nashville held the Crew scoreless for 90 minutes. Each side had chances. Notably for Nashville, MLS Defender of the Year Walker Zimmerman had a few headers go on frame. For the Crew, Pedro Santos and Gyasi Zardes both had looks at Joe Willis.
Those two players ended up scoring for Columbus — but in extra time.
Once again, the Tennessee-based club went to extra time with another Eastern Conference club. This time, the outcome was different. The Crew got on the board in the 99th minute, courtesy of Santos. Lucas Zelarayán dished the ball to Zardes, who pulled back at the perfect moment and slid the ball to Santos, who was wide open inside the box with space.
— The Crew (@ColumbusCrew) November 30, 2020
Then, four minutes later, Zardes got on the board himself. Just narrowly staying onside due to the positioning of Daniel Lovitz, Zardes slotted home his one-on-one chance with Willis.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) November 30, 2020