I-40 rivalry (maybe… sort of?) kicks off with the capital coming out on top

In the first derby for professional soccer in the great state of Tennessee, Nashville walks away with the win 2-0. From the start you could tell that Nashville was the superior team on the night. If you think the rain delay would’ve effected them, it was only in a positive way.

You’d expect this type of performance for a team that will be playing in the MLS next year. Memphis was burned on the wing by the great Carlton Belmar more times than I can count, and Nashville as a whole had their way with shots at the top of the 18. Memphis is a team that prides itself on solid defense, but with only 5 goals in 7 games, you start to wonder if they know what they’re doing on offense.


901 FC Player Grades

#1 Jeff Caldwell (7) – We could’ve seen this game end 4-0 if it wasn’t for Caldwell’s efforts. He had an incredible save late in the first from a textbook header and came out when needed to stop some potential threats. The first goal he maybe should’ve saved (you hate to get megged as a keeper), but you also would’ve expected Burch to front his defender instead of letting a 1v1 happen. The second goal was just unlucky. A great first save landed as an Easter egg for the Nashville forward to bury. Sometimes you just can’t save them all.

#3 Abdi Mohamed (4.5) – What can I say, the Nashville wingers have blazing speed. Must be from all that hot chicken they eat? Mohamed was constantly burned, and if it wasn’t for a 3-piece spicy combo of Burch/Hauser-Ramsey/Charpie on defense to clear the crosses, we would’ve saw more goals against. He did have some bright moments, which structure around his composure with the ball, but this game left some questions as to who should be the starting 2 outside backs, and Charpie/Hodge seem to be the answer. We could also note that this was a weird night with a game delay of 1.5 hours, and a pretty slick field to run on. The outcome of Mohamed’s play could be directly related to this, as he’s been pretty solid historically.

#8 Marc Burch (6) – You could tell Burch was slightly annoyed with the efforts of his outside backs, and his midfielders. As mentioned earlier you saw Charpie and Mohamed burned on the wings, and it seemed like no one in the center was closing down on their man. I will say that this wasn’t Burch’s best game this season, as he was caught sleeping in the 41st that almost led to a header goal (thanks for the save, Caldwell), and the first goal could’ve been prevented if Burch wasn’t caught flat footed on the ball in. Outside of this, there was almost nothing in the air thanks to the center backs. I’ll take only 1 goal from a cross against for every 1,000 crosses, which is what today’s game felt like.

#10 Adam Najem (5.5) – Man I love watching Najem play. He’s normally the catalyst for offensive attacks, including a vital piece for counterattacks. Unfortunately, this game saw very little offensive threats from us. Najem was playing a little out of position for what we’ve seen (he started at outside forward), which could be why we had a lack of chemistry on attacks. We also saw a lack of buildup play from the midfielders this game, which I contribute to Najem not being tucked in at center attacking mid position. Interesting offensive strategy, but 0 goals might mean that it didn’t work.   

#13 Oliver White (4) – Not much can be said about White’s first half efforts. He wasn’t a part of any significant efforts on offense, and defensively he couldn’t match his runners (along with a lack of effort in closing down his man). He had a good give and go in the 39th that looked to give us a chance at a decent offensive possession. Alas, he for some reason chipped the ball into the box which was an instant turnover due to no 901 players being anywhere near the box.

#15 Jacob Hauser-Ramsey (6) – I’ve made this comment before, but I feel like it’s a good repeat. You really don’t want to see a center defender subbed off, and based on the way Hauser-Ramsey was playing, it was a surprise that he was. He came up injured late in the first, which is resulted in the substitution I would imagine. Nonetheless, he was one of the only 901 players that I feel made it tough on the Nashville forwards, and between him and Burch, they won all but one ball in the air during the first half. Maybe the end score would’ve been 1-0 or 1-1 if Hauser-Ramsey would’ve stayed in and defended against the second goal. Maybe we would’ve won even, 2-1. Man I love speculating! 

#17 Ewan Grandison (4.5) – Grandison just didn’t make an impact on this game, which is a shame considering he played right center mid. You expect a player in the position to be instrumental in guiding where the ball goes, but we didn’t see that from Grandison today. He looked uncomfortable all game, which granted could be due to the fact that we rarely had long spells of possession, which is essential to build up in game chemistry. On defense he could’ve closed down better as well. We saw in the 72nd minute a shot on goal from Nashville, and this was due to Grandsion pulling too far over, and leaving a man wide open in the mid. You got to keep your formation.   

#18 Elliot Collier (3.5) – Collier was switched to left outside mid this game, which is an interesting strategy because the outside mid is usually fast and has the stamina to last constant sprints 18 to 18. Unfortunately for us, Collier doesn’t exhibit either of those attributes. We’ve only seen one goal from Collier this year, and the new loaned forward from Orlando (Cam Lindley) needed to get some action (which is why we saw Collier switch to mid maybe). We also saw Dally come on at half to cause some confusion up top, but still, I would’ve liked to see Dally and Lindley up top, with Najem in the mid, and Collier as the sub. Lastly, the second goal against us came from someone not marking their man. I’ll leave you to wonder which 6’4 midfielder lost concentration due to exhaustion and didn’t stick with their man.

#21 Duane Muckette (6.5) – Really a decent performance from Muckette. He seemed to be in the right places when needed (actually tucked in and marking his man on defense), and made a great run in the 61st that required a sliding stop from Nashville to avoid a shot on goal. His eye to find Lindley on a through ball early in the 2nd half gave me hope of a goal throughout the game.

#22 Wesley Charpie (5.5) – Same deal here with Charpie as was Mohamed. They were just torched on the wings. One difference I saw Charpie make which I thought was interesting was his force defense. Instead of pushing their winger to the sideline, he forced their winger inside right into our defense. This caused some turnovers and cut back on the crosses from his side, which was a smart in game play by him (or whoever told him to do that). The end of the game showed some color from Charpie. In the dying minutes of the game, Charpie (frustrated) had a pretty ambitious sliding tackle which took out the winger that kept burning him earlier in the game (Belmar). Belmar in turn shoved Charpie, and a little scuffle broke out. It wasn’t a great tackle by Charpie, but it was interesting to see some of that nonexistent rivalry flare up. To add to the drama, Charpie was given a yellow, and Belmar a slap on the wrist.

#27 Cam Lindley (7) – What a nice surprise of a player to receive. It was ambitious for Coach Mulqueen to start a fresh face, but I think Lindley is going to be part of some key goals this year. Just like Najem, Lindley is composed and crafty on the ball, but unlike Najem, Lindley has a slightly bigger build which helps him shoulder opponents off the ball. There was a lack of chemistry that helped lead to no goals, but his layoffs to muckette and Najem this game gives me a ton of hope in our offense moving forward. Ideally a Dally/Lindley combo up top, and a Najem/Muckette/Grandison/Hackworth midfield, with Collier/Metzger being the subs. I’m getting giddy just thinking about it.

SUBS

#14 Rashawn Dally (6.5) – Why did he not start??? Dally made an instant impact with his change of pace, and easily gave us our best chance with a shot in the 47th minute that needed a quick save from Nashville’s keeper to keep the score 0-0. What I think is best about the appearance of Dally is that we finally had someone who could match the speed of their midfielders.

#20 Todd Pratzner (5.5) – I think Pratzner did what was needed as a sub. We continued to win almost every ball in the air, and in the 91st minute the great Belmar tried to work some magic on Pratzner. He was DENIED. If Pratzner could show some speed, I would love to see him push out wide, as he is a smart standup defender.

#5 Tristan Hodge (N/A) – Just subbed on because Mohamed was gassed and I wish he could’ve come on much earlier (like 5th minute of the game).

— Casey Long


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