Three takeaways from Nashville SC's beatdown of FC Dallas
Nashville SC not only shutout FC Dallas on Tuesday night in Nissan Stadium, but they managed to score multiple goals in consecutive matches for the first time in the club's history.
After thrashing Houston Dynamo 3-1 last week, Gary Smith's squad looked resolute defensively and struck brilliantly on the counter-attack to tally three goals.
Though Dallas controlled possession throughout, the NSC backline stayed together and allowed only one quality chance in the second half shortly before Jhonder Cadiz scored his first goal in MLS.
Here are my three takeaways from the brilliant win.
The forwards are finally healthy and clicking!
Nashville scored three times! THREE TIMES! Again!
The best part of it all, Randall Leal tallied on a fantastic shot from outside the box for his second of the season, new striker Jhonder Cadiz put the match to bed with a great shot in the second half, and striker Daniel Rios marked his return from injury with what I am calling the goal of the year for NSC (other than the free-kick from Hany Mukhtar last week).
The best part of it all was that Nashville took their chances and scored them unlike in previous matches this season.
The shots have come in bunches this season, but those shots have not found the mark. In this match, Nashville had 12 shots with six going on target.
They were helped out by a couple of lucky deflections off of Dallas players, but in the end, Nashville definitely deserved all three points.
Smith now has a conundrum on his hands. Who will he start at striker moving forward? Cadiz, Danladi, or Rios? He has options now!
Joe Willis is one of the best keepers in MLS
Other than Sean Johnson of NYCFC, I dare you to find a goalkeeper who has played better than Joe Willis. On Tuesday night, Willis made his 18th consecutive start for the club and earned his eighth clean sheet of the season.
Though he wasn't tested all that much in the match, his communication with the defensive players in front of him and his command of the 18-yard box was fantastic.
Willis ranks in the top 10 in MLS for clean sheets, saves, save percentage, goals allowed per 90 minutes, and goals against.
The 32-year-old is in the midst of a career year and Gary Smith will likely not look to his backup, Elliot Panicco, for the rest of the season.
You can't stop Joe Willy!
This is a playoff team
Unlike Inter Miami, Nashville SC has been turning heads in their inaugural season. The team's defensive continuity and ability to grind out results has them sitting eighth in the Eastern Conference with 24 points.
As it stands, Nashville is three points behind sixth place NYCFC with a game in hand and are five points clear of 11th and missing the playoff with one fewer game played than Atlanta United.
With a little bit more help on the attack, Nashville could play a home playoff match in their first season.
If the defense can continue to perform like they have throughout this year, they are going to give a lot of teams issues.
They may not be competing for the MLS Cup right away, but don't be too surprised if The Boys in Gold win at least one game in the postseason!