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Three Takeaways: Joe Willis Earns a Point for Nashville SC

MLS: Toronto FC at Nashville SC as Joe Willis Steps up on April 8, 2023

Nashville SC goalkeeper, Joe Willis, was the player of the game for Nashville SC as he made some big saves to preserve the tie. Toronto FC played well on Saturday, and the defence was very solid, which was not the case last week.

Nashville SC’s Joe Willis Stepped Up

Joe Willis Made Two Big Saves

Willis played a big role in Nashville preserving the point at GEODIS Park. Here are a few examples:

  • He made a big save off a Richie Laryea shot in the 75-minute.
  • Willis saw the free-kick late from Federico Bernardeschi, but he was able to see the ball and make the diving stop.

Both Nashville and Toronto had three shots on goal each. However, TFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson was never troubled as much as Willis and it showed with some of those big saves.

Federico Bernardeschi and Richie Laryea Played Well

Both Bernardeschi and Laryea really played well against Nashville SC. Bernardeschi created several scoring chances for himself and others. Examples include:

  • Setting Michael Bradley up with his corner.
  • He set up a scoring chance for Jonathan Osorio.

TFC depends a lot on Bernardeschi as he created almost all of TFC’s scoring opportunities. He will be a player to watch as Toronto continues on in this regular season. This is also true for Laryea, who made a great defensive play late in the game and was active throughout the whole game.

Toronto FC’s Defence Played Well

Toronto FC played well defensively against Nashville SC. The Reds made some key plays to make sure no goals were scored.

  • Matt Hedges made a goal-saving defensive play in the third minute.
  • Raoul Petretta made a great defensive play and cleared the ball.

Overall, Toronto’s defence was resolute when Nashville was really pressing to start the game. As the game went on, they dealt with Nashville’s counter-attack and were more compact and did not make mistakes as they did in their home draw against Charlotte FC.

Other Factors

Nashville SC’s defence also played well against Toronto FC. There were three instances of this:

  • Deandre Kerr’s shot was blocked in the first half, if Kerr was able to get a shot off, he would have likely scored.
  • Osorio was not able to get a shot off after a dangerous pass from Bernardeschi inside the box.
  • Nashville SC stole the ball from Ayo Akinola near the box late in the game.

Nashville showed that they can counter-attack, as when Willis made that save on Bernardeschi. Overall, though, TFC was probably the better team at the end of the day. They threatened the goalkeeper more than Nashville did to threaten Sean Johnson.

Games Coming Up For Both Teams

This was a positive result for Toronto FC. After a disappointing match against Charlotte FC, this was the performance they needed. Yes, TFC did not get the win they deserved, but the team is on the right track. As for Nashville SC, they were able to preserve the draw as Willis continues his brilliance for his local club. As a statistic, this is also one of the only two times TFC did not lead in the game. The other time they did not lead in the game was a scoreless draw against the San Jose Earthquakes.

Toronto FC will now look forward to hosting Atlanta United FC at BMO Field on Saturday, April 15 at 7:30 p.m. ET. They will then travel to Pennsylvania to face Philadelphia Union at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 22. This is while Nashville SC will travel to New York City to face New York City FC on Saturday, April 15 at 7:30 p.m. ET. They then host defending MLS Cup Champions, Los Angeles FC at BMO Stadium on April 22 at 8:30 p.m. ET.


Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports on April 8, 2023, of a Joe Willis Headshot


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