COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – It was Gary Smith’s first ever return to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park since leaving Colorado Rapids. His Nashville SC rolled into Commerce City and rolled out with three point in the Gary Smith Derby.
Nashville Rout Colorado Rapids in Gary Smith Derby 3-1
Gyasi Zardes started at forward, having missed last game with a hamstring injury. Anthony Markanich started at right wingback with Lucas Esteves still suspended. Gary Smith rotated his midfield after recent fixture congestion. Elliot Panicco started in goal with Joe Willis on a poor run of form.
The visitors got the party started eight minutes in. Dave Romney won a header at the end line on a recycled ball off a free kick. Walker Zimmerman got enough contact on the follow up shot to send the ball across goal to a wide open C.J. Sapong for a tap in. Colorado wanted offsides, but Keegan Rosenberry kept the play on. He was out of bounce after the Romney header.
Hany Mukhtar showed his quality on the second goal. Nashville restarted quickly on 15 minutes. Mukhtar found space in the box and sent the ball upper 90 to beat William Yarbrough.
Mukhtar made it 3-0 two minutes later. Muke Haakenson dribbled into space in transition. He got a step on Danny Wilson and fired a perfectly weighted cross into the six yard box. Unchallenged by the two center backs and goalkeeper, Mukhtar headed the ball into the back of the net.
“Our mentality wasn’t right. We turned the ball over in certain spots. Our reactions were not good enough,” manager Robin Fraser said postgame.
Colorado managed very little on goal. Diego Rubio had a shot from the top of the box in the first half that whistled wide of the post. Markanich had a header in first half stoppage time that was a routine save. Nashville put numbers behind the ball and smothered the Rapids attack in the final third.
Rubio gave the crowd something to cheer about. He scored on a direct free kick in the 78th minute. It was his second free kick goal of the year and seventh overall. Colorado pushed for a comeback but came up short with their shots going right at Panicco.
The match ended 3-1.
🚨 Mukhtar Brace 🚨
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) May 29, 2022
Gary Smith Derby: Fairly or unfairly, Gary Smith will be thinking deep down he won the breakup. The English manager won MLS Cup with Colorado in 2010 then had a messy departure a year later. In the first regular season match between these teams, his team squarely won, being clinical in the attack and stout in the low block. His coaching staff includes members of that 2010 team Steve Guppy, Kosuke Kimura, and Matt Pickens.
Colorado’s home streak ends at 23: The Burgundy Boys had been so good at home. The defense was shaky. They weren’t horrible throughout the first 45, but they had multiple terrible sequences. It was going to take something spectacular and unusual to break this streak. And it did.
“The first 15-20 minutes we looked a bit scared. We’ve never been like that,” Captain Jack Price told Last Word. “We need more leadership including from myself in the first 30 minutes.”
Mukhtar shines: Hany Mukhtar is a star in this league. He was great on both goals. If he keeps this up, he’ll be in the running for MVP and Nashville should have a home playoff game.
Photo Credit: Mark Shaiken, Last Word on Soccer.