After having three friendlies canceled against both New York teams and Inter Miami, Nashville SC took the field Wednesday night against USL Championship side Tampa Bay Rowdies at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Several first choice players were missing either through International play, load management, or minor injuries thus giving way to many younger players as well as trialists. As with the Louisville City match, this was a closed-door match with no stream.
The first half lineup looked like this: Elliot Panicco in goal behind Eric Miller, Walker Zimmerman, Dave Romney, Dan Lovitz as a back four. Tah Brian Anunga filled in for Anibal Godoy (Panama) next to Dax McCarty. Alex Muyl and Handwalla Bwana were on the wings with Luke Haakenson as the lone striker and an Unsigned Player as the 10. That Unsigned Player would score the lone goal in the game in the 22nd minute after getting in behind the defense and slotting it past the keeper according to the club.
The second half lineup looked like a lot different. Panicco stayed in goal while Jalil Anibaba came in at RB, Jack Maher and Robert Castellanos at CBs and Nick Hinds at LB; Two Unsigned Players at the CDM positions behind Taylor Washington and Handwalla Bwana on the wings with Rodrigo Piñeiro at CAM and Alex Muyl up top. Eric Miller, Luke Haakenson, and an Unsigned Player subbed in during the second half for Unsigned Player, Alex Muyl, and Handwalla Bwana respectively.
After the game, Gary Smith praised last year's SuperDraft pick Panicco for going a full 90 minutes and "withstanding the onslaught in the second half" while keeping a clean sheet referring to Tampa taking advantage of the younger, more inexperienced lineup in the second group.
When asked about new signee Rodrigo Piñeiro, Smith said, "He's a talented boy. He's got very good energy, very good turn of pace. He's an intelligent footballer, but there are things he's gonna have to take on board to get himself further down the line and be ready for the first team." Smith compared Piñeiro's journey to that of Randall Leal in that he was new to the league, the country, and the language, but that he was handling everything well.
Mentioning the players out on International leave, Smith said they watched Leal and Godoy play on tv, but saw Alistair Johnston play live with Canada since they played at IMG Academy where Nashville SC are this preseason. Smith talked about what an accomplishment it was for Johnston to not only get his first cap and his first start but also his first goal for his country. Smith said Johnston will be back with NSC next week. On Godoy, Smith mentioned what an incredible feat it is to play for your country over 100 times and how proud the club is of him. On Leal, while it's unfortunate that Costa Rica did not advance, Leal had two fantastic goals.
This Saturday's friendly was supposed to be against Inter Miami CF, but, as stated earlier, it was canceled. The club has had a friendly on 4/10 with a location and opponent TBA, and Smith was tightlipped about it. We should hopefully hear more news about that match very soon. Until then, stick with MLSNow and follow me on Twitter @NSCGoldenBoy for more news. Enjoy these highlights courtesy of Nashville SC.