Another Nashville home loss: Benítez leads reinforced Minnesota to road win

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NASHVILLE – Nashville SC hosted Minnesota United FC on Sunday night. It was another critical six pointer in the MLS Western Conference. Nashville were winless in their last five games, having lost their last home game. Minnesota hosted the MLS All-Star game midweek and had three players back from yellow card accumulation including Emanuel Reynoso.

Another Nashville home loss: Alan Benítez leads Minnesota to road win

The first half was exciting with both teams going for it. Randall Leal thought he’d opened the scoring 12 minutes in, but goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair made a great save on the curling shot. C.J. Sapong and Alex Muyl had great looks at goal as well but were off target.

Just moments after the Leal chance, Luis Amarilla thought he had a goal. He had a great shot that went off the post near the top corner. The Loons finally opened the scoring in the 27th minute. Walker Zimmerman turned the ball over while playing out of the back. Minnesota passed quickly with the ball eventually finding Franco Fragapane, who slipped the ball past Joe Willis and into the far corner.

Zimmerman nearly made up for his error in the final minutes of the half. He had an open header on a corner but St. Clair made another great save. Nashville were the aggressors to start the second half. They finally broke through an hour. Any Mukhtar scored on a great shot, set up by Dave Romney on a secondary chance off a set piece.

The visitors weren’t done yet. Reynoso made a great play to get by Shaq Moore in the 75th minute. He passed to Joseph Rosales, who sent a cross zipping through the box. It founds its way to Alan Benítez who scored.

Nashville were unable to comeback in the final 15 minutes.The match ended 2-1 to the Loons.

Three Thoughts:

Another Nashville home loss: It is a third home loss in four for Gary Smith’s side. They are now 3-5-5 at GEODIS Park. They’re on the bubble for the playoffs. Normally, one would associate an MLS team opening a new stadium with them finding success and making the playoffs. This team is not getting it done at home. They can have more chances and a higher xG all they want. Defensive break downs are hurting them. They’re also relatively one dimensional offensively, being so set piece and Mukhtar dependent. Mukhtar has 14 goals. The next highest on the team is Sapong with five.

Reinforced Minnesota shows class: The Loons had a tough go last week in a loss at Colorado. No Reynoso, Robin Lod, or Michael Boxall. They were much better in this game in both boxes with those three back. Reynoso is their stair attacking player. He got the play going on the match winner. Benítez has been a great edition at right back. Even Jonathan Gonzalez made his debut and looked fine in his six minutes.

MLS All-Stars: There were four members of the 2022 MLS-All Star team at the center of this match. Reynoso and Mukhtar showed their quality in the final third. St. Clair made several big saves. Zimmerman made a critical mistake that cost his team.

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